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Arizona sends bill on child custody hearings to governor

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Whenever parents decide to end a marriage, the children become the primary focus of the divorce. While not every child custody dispute results in a fight, child custody issues are often some of the most emotionally complex legal issues that parents must address in a divorce proceeding. One issues that has bothered some Arizona parents is the length of time it can take to get an initial child custody hearing.

A bill addressing child custody hearings is currently set to go before Governor Jan Brewer for her signature. If the Governor does sign the legislation into law, family court judges will now be required to hold an evidentiary hearing on newly assigned child custody cases within 60 days of the parent filing the divorce papers. Under the current system it can take many months for an initial child custody hearing.

In child custody hearings, the parents address many important child custody arrangements that must be decided before a divorce can be finalized. These issues include physical and legal custody rights, visitation rights, support concerns and any other parenting time concerns. In some cases grandparents and extended family can seek visitation rights from the court as well, but this is far less common.

Common terminology in custody cases includes physical custody, legal custody, visitation time, joint custody and sole custody. Physical custody refers to the custodial parent with whom the child will live. This is typically assigned as sole custody, meaning only one parent is the custodial parent. Legal custody, on the other hand, refers to a parent's right to make decisions for their child. This is typically shared or joint custody. Even if sole physical custody is granted, the non-custodial parent is still typically guaranteed legal visitation rights.

Child custody cases are arduous and complicated. It is important that divorcing spouses understand their rights and responsibilities before entering into the courtroom.

Source: KSAZ FOX10, "House Oks bill speeding child custody hearings," March 27, 2013

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