Shared children are a common reason that otherwise smart and functional adults stay in unhealthy and damaging relationships. They worry that ending the relationship will cause trauma for the children and fear that they may not have time with the children afterward.
Whether you married the mother of your child or have shared a long-term relationship without a formal commitment, it is true that ending your relationship will affect your relationship with the children as well. However, you don’t have to worry about getting cut out of the children’s lives, in most cases.
Many fathers in Arizona worry about ending a relationship because they think that the courts always give full custody to the mother if she asks for it. Do mothers really receive preferential treatment in the Arizona family courts?
The law does not discuss your gender or parental role
For there to be a structural bias against fathers in the family courts, the Arizona civil code would need to support that kind of bias. If the law talked about different parenting rights for men and women or mothers and fathers, then you would likely see a marked discrepancy in the custody outcomes for parents of different sexes or genders.
However, Arizona has neutral language in its custody laws. It does not talk about men, women, fathers or mothers. Instead, it simply focuses on parental relationships and the best interests of the children. In most cases, the courts consider keeping both parents involved to be in the best interests of the children.
You can share in parenting time and legal decision-making authority
There are two main kinds of custody available in Arizona. There is parenting time, which is when you get to be with and have responsibility for your children. Then there is legal decision-making authority, which grants you the right to enroll your children in Sunday school or take them to the doctor for medical attention.
You can request to share parenting time and decision-making authority as an Arizona father. Unless the courts hear evidence that such arrangements would not be in the best interests of your children, shared custody is a common result of litigated custody matters. Learning the basics about Arizona’s child custody laws can help you feel more confident when you make decisions in other areas of your life.