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Posted by: Maricopa Lawyers on Jan 17, 2013

Changes to child custody law in Arizona have given divorced families new rules regarding the amount of time parents get to spend with their children.

The new law, which went into effect Jan. 1st, has made changes to the language of family court proceedings, as well as given fathers more time with their children. The law stipulates that courts will no longer make decisions about who receives “physical custody” of a child or how much time is allowed for “visitation” with the other parent. Instead, the court will issue rulings on the amount of “parenting time” for each parent.

The changes, however, are written in a way that will ensure that fathers can establish and maintain a strong relationship with their children. William Fabricius, a university professor who helped craft the changes, believes this new law will aid in healthy child development.

Divorce has an adverse effect on child’s psyche. One major study shows that within two or three years of a divorce, nearly 20 percent of children have limited or no contact with their fathers.

Another study shows that children who have a meaningful relationship with their fathers after divorce are better adjusted and more successful than their peers with distant fathers.

The new legislation in Arizona will give the non-custodial parent at least 35 percent of parenting time, up from the 25 percent it was formerly, which the court believes is in the best interest of the child.

Additionally, the law doles out harsher punishments and fines for parents who lie or try to delay court proceedings during the divorce process.

Parents who are already divorced will likely keep the same custody arrangements, at least for a while. Arizona courts require that there be a change in familial circumstance before a change in custody arrangements can be requested.