Arizona Divorce with Children and Terminating Parental Rights

Arizona Divorce with Children and Termination of Parental Rights


Parents who are going through a divorce in Arizona must make a decision as to parenting time and legal decision making. There are 2 types of legal decision making (formerly known as custody) They are sole-legal decision making and joint legal decision making.

The Court typically favors joint legal decision making unless one parent can prove why sole legal decision making is in the children’s best interest. Legal decision making is the act of making a decision on behalf of the child with respect to health care, education, religious decisions and personal care decisions.

A common misconception however is that legal decision making and parenting time are the same thing. Parenting time however, is the amount of time each parent spends with the child and not making legal decisions.

Another common misconception is that if a parent has sole legal decision making then the other parent’s parental rights have been terminated or if one parent does not have parenting time then that parent’s parental rights have been terminated. Neither is correct.

Sole Legal Decision Making (fka Custody) with no parenting time to the other parent gives one parent the ability to make legal decisions for the child and exercises parenting time 100% of the time. If one parent has sole Legal Decision Making (fka Custody) for both physical and legal purposes, that parent will be the child’s “custodial” parent until and unless a petition to modify parenting time or legal decision making is filed by either party, and also be able to make all discretionary life decisions for a child regarding their upbringing without having to consult the other parent. However, even in cases in which a court will grant sole Legal Decision Making (fka Custody) to a parent, the other parent of the child will likely have parenting time with respect to the child. In these cases, the parent without Legal Decision Making (fka Custody) will be allowed parenting time with their child to maintain an emotional bond and connection between the parent and child. Additionally, the parent without physical or legal Legal Decision Making (fka Custody) will still be required under the law to pay child support for the child and support the child financially.  However, it can also be ordered that the other parent will have no parenting time with the child but still have parental rights with respect to inheritance from a deceased parent etc.


When parental rights are terminated with respect to a child, the parent without rights is considered by law to be a stranger to that child. Whether voluntary or involuntary, when parental rights are terminated, that parent has no legal right to ever see or communicate with the child again, or have any right to make any decisions regarding the upbringing of the child or be eligible as an heir in the case of the deceased parent. In these extreme cases in which parental rights are terminated, the parent may not be required to pay any child support with respect to the child, and this decision will be made the court.


A Termination of Parental Rights is usually filed in the Juvenile Court of the Superior Court of Arizona and Legal Decision Making and Parenting Time actions are filed in the Family Court Division of the Superior Court of Arizona.

The Divorce Guy provides legal services without an attorney for those parents who wish to file for Divorce in Arizona. If you would like to get started with our service online you may click to get started or call our office at 520-327-1085 or 480-745-2533.


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