Arizona Divorce Lawyer Says Goodbye to Custody

Submitted by Attorney Douglas C. Gardner

I mentioned this in my blog last month, but this is so huge I wanted to address it once more.  Goodbye Custody.  In a recent seminar, where most of the top divorce and family law attorneys and many of the family law judges were gathered, the primary topic was the end of “custody.”

One attorney suggested a marketing campaign of “Last Chance to Get ‘Custody!’”  Most people have no idea that they will no longer be able to go to court to get custody beginning January 1, 2013.

While this may sound like a big change, it is primarily semantics.  Sole Legal Custody and Joint Legal Custody are being replaced with the terms “Sole Legal Decision Making” and “Joint Legal Decision Making.”

At least initially, not much changes except for the wording.  There are several other changes to the law that will over time alter the trajectory of the family law changes that have been happening for decades.

If you need to establish “custody” or “legal decision making” for the first time, or if you have a custody order and you are returning to Court, beginning in January the Courts will be required to put into effect orders for “legal decision making.”  Existing “custody” orders will remain valid, but as each case returns to court, the new replacement orders will no longer include the “custody” terminology.

Do not let this scare you.  While this is your last month to get Custody, very little has actually changed in the short term with this new law. Over time, we will continue to see important changes and you will want to ensure that you are represented by an attorney that is aware of these changes and in tune with the ever-changing law.

If you are involved in a divorce case or other parenting time case involving “legal decision making” (the new word for legal custody), or other simple or complex issues and want experienced legal representation, please call 800-899-2730 and ask to speak with Douglas C. Gardner, or visit our website at