It can be. In Arizona as in most states, the legal standard for setting up parental decision-making authority and parenting time is that these orders must be in the best interest of the children. When determining what is in the children’s best interest, the courts can consider any factor relevant to the children’s physical and emotional well-being.
Common factors used to determine parental decision-making authority in Arizona include:
- The relationship between the parent and the child
- The interrelationships of the child with parents, siblings and others who affect the child’s best interests
- The child’s adjustment to home, school and community
- Where the child is mature enough, the child’s wishes
- The physical and mental health of the people involved
- Which parent is more likely to allow frequent, meaningful, continuing contact with the other parent
- Whether either parent has intentionally misled the court to achieve a delay or increase cost
- Whether there has been domestic violence or child abuse
- Whether either parent used duress to obtain a parenting order
- Whether either parent has falsely reported child abuse or neglect
However, the mere fact that a member of the military may be deployed or reassigned is generally not enough for a court to award parenting rights to the other parent.
What happens when a deployment occurs?
Assuming your deployment or mobilization would materially affect your legal decision-making authority and parenting time, you may need to get your parenting order modified. However, you should be aware that the mere fact of deployment or mobilization is not enough on its own to be considered a substantial change in circumstances, which is required before a parenting order can be modified.
The court can enter a temporary order for parenting time during the deployment or mobilization. This is generally done at the request of the non-military parent.
When your deployment or mobilization takes you far away from your children, you are generally allowed to designate another person to take on your parenting time. This person can be a stepparent, a child’s relative, or someone else who has a close and substantial relationship with the child, as long as the court believes this is in the child’s best interest.
Once you return, either you or the child’s other parent can again ask for the parenting order to be modified.
If you are a member of the military, be sure that all your rights will be respected. If you are considering divorce or need a parenting order, contact an attorney who is familiar with the issues of military divorce and parenting.