Question: Please describe what the courts look at for "best Interest for the child". Do they take into account what the child(ren) want?
The phrase "best interests of the child" is applied in a number of different contexts throughout the Arizona domestic relations code. Your question does not indicate which of those contexts you are interested in. On the assumption that you are talking about an award of custody, I would direct your attention to A.R.S. § 25-403.
As you will see from this law, the court must consider all relevant factors, including 10 that are specified in the statute. In addition to these basic factors, the court will always consider extremely important issues such as domestic violence, child neglect, substance abuse, and the criminal conduct of either or both parents. The child's wishes are indeed important, and are even listed as one of the 10 factors for the judge's consideration. This does not mean that the child gets to 'choose' where he or she will live, but his or her opinion will definitely be considered along with the other factors - especially if it is a child of meaningful age and maturity, i.e., a teenager.
December 28, 2006