Understanding the Best Interest of the Child in Arizona: A Guide for Parents and Guardians.

The Legal Definition of "Best Interest of the Child" in Arizona

When it comes to custody battles in Arizona, the only thing that really matters is the best interest of the child. It's a term that's tossed around a lot, but what does it actually mean? At its core, the best interest of the child standard requires judges and parents alike to prioritize a child's health, safety, and welfare above all other concerns. If you're involved in a child custody case in Arizona, it's important to understand what this term means and how it might impact your case.

What Does the "Best Interest of the Child" Standard Mean in Arizona?

The legal definition of the best interest of the child standard in Arizona is primarily outlined in ARS §25-403. This statute provides a framework for judges when making decisions about parenting time and custody. Essentially, the law requires that all court decisions concerning children must prioritize the child's best interests above all else. This means that any custody arrangement or parenting plan should promote the child's emotional and physical health, as well as their overall welfare.

Factors the Court Considers When Determining the Best Interest of the Child

So, how does a judge determine what's in a child's best interest? ARS §25-403 sets forth a number of factors that must be considered when making this determination. Here are a few of the most important factors:

1. The Child's Relationship with Each Parent

One of the most critical factors a judge will consider is the child's relationship with each parent. Courts believe that it's generally in a child's best interest to have a close and loving relationship with both parents, so this will be a key consideration throughout the case. Judges will examine how involved each parent has been in the child's life, their ability to provide a safe and stable home, and other factors that could impact the parent-child relationship.

2. The Stability of Each Parent's Home Environment

Another important consideration is the stability of each parent's home environment. A judge will want to make sure that the child will have a safe and stable place to live, so they'll examine factors like the parent's living situation, employment stability, and financial resources. Judges will also consider the quality of the child's current living arrangements and whether they're stable and nurturing.

3. The Child's Wishes (If They're Old Enough to Express Them)

If a child is old enough to express their wishes, a judge will often consider those wishes when making a custody determination. Judges will consider the child's age, maturity, and ability to articulate their preferences. However, it's important to note that a child's wishes aren't determinative; the court will consider all relevant factors before making a decision.

4. The Mental and Physical Health of Each Parent and the Child

Mental and physical health are also important factors in the best interest of the child determination. Judges will want to make sure that each parent and the child are healthy and able to care for one another. This means that health conditions, mobility issues, and mental health concerns could all impact a custody determination.

5. The Ability of Each Parent to Cooperate and Communicate with the Other Parent

Finally, a judge will consider each parent's ability to cooperate and communicate with the other parent. Ideally, both parents will be willing and able to work together for the benefit of the child. However, if there's a history of conflict or abuse between the parents, this could be a red flag for the court.


Overall, the best interest of the child standard is a critical consideration in any custody case in Arizona. If you're facing a custody battle, it's important to work with an experienced family law attorney who can help you understand how these factors might impact your case. By working together, you can create a child custody arrangement that truly prioritizes your child's health, safety, and welfare.

Best Interest of Child, Arizona