The Evolution of Child Custody as Arizona Leads the Way

As times and society grow and evolve, the law that governs us must also adapt to remain relevant and effective. As the media remains focused primarily on same-sex marriage issues and the legalization of marijuana, another area of law has been quietly evolving since the country began.

Child custody, up until very recently, has always been focused on naming one parent the custodial parent, and granting the other visitation. Long before the twentieth century, fathers were given primary custody. The law only focused on the father’s parenting rights until the mid-nineteenth century, when women’s rights movements and burgeon industry began to turn the tables.

A few decades later, several studies were done that claimed children under a certain age were better off under their mother’s care and custody. This prompted United States courts to eventually adopt what is known as the tender years presumption, which granted maternal custody to young children. This was the legal standard for well over a century, until the tides began to turn in favor of gender-neutral custody decisions based on a child’s best interests—a change that Arizona has embraced wholly.

Shared Custody: Quickly Becoming the “Norm” in Arizona

During North Dakota elections this year, voters were faced with a measure that awarded equal parenting to both parents following a divorce known as the “Parental Rights Initiative.” While the measure did not pass, it did show that the nation was rapidly becoming accustomed to the idea of shared parenting.  

In a recent study by the National Parents Organization, it was found that while most states’ custody laws do not easily accommodate the notion of shared parenting, Arizona has led the way in developing post-divorce custody and care that keeps both parents equally involved. One of the methods in which Arizona has blazed new trails is the use of parenting plans, which parents can create together with the help of a mediator or attorney. The plans are more flexible than a traditional court-ordered custody agreement, and allows for change as the child’s needs change over time.

If you are considering divorce and are looking for a custody agreement that fulfills the needs of your child as well as your rights as a parent, the family law attorneys at Curry, Pearson & Wooten can help. Simply call our office or fill out our online contact form, and learn how our attorneys can help you create a custom solution for you.