New law: In divorce, forget the word "custody"
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - A new law goes into effect New Year's Day that could change the way divorced parents raise their children.
The new law is designed to level the playing field between parents. There will no longer be an all or nothing approach to child custody. In fact even the word custody will be changed to "parenting time" and both parents will be called legal decision makers, giving parents equal say on important lifestyle choices.
"I see the impact of having had a past situation where we didn't always get along really well and it was difficult to try to make decisions together," said Family Attorney Danette Pahl. "Those decisions you get to make regarding healthcare, education, religion and personal hygeine type of stuff -- is the kid going to be allowed to have tatoos, piercings or green hair."
The new law will also change how divorced parents divvy up time with their child.
"They're also going to have equal time with their children and that is really what is going to be the biggest change with the new law," Pahl said.
The law moves away from the every-other-weekend custody arrangements and mom will not automatically get custody.
"There was a presumption that kids should be with their moms," said Pahl. "So [now] dad is going to have the same obligations and also should have the same opportunity to be able to spend significant time with the kids."
But arizona's new law still requires judges to make decisions based on the child's best interest, especially in cases of abuse and neglect.
"So it's still on a case by case basis," Pahl said.
Another change in the law, the court must now fine any parent who lies to a judge or tries to delay court proceedings. Before, it was optional.