Arizona Parenting Plans and Why You Need to Have One

If you are a parent contemplating or going through a divorce, you may be wondering about what your child’s new living arrangement will be and how you and your co-parent will make decisions on behalf of your child. Arizona law requires that divorcing couples seeking joint custody of their children develop a written parenting plan, including a visitation schedule, that provides for resolution of conflicts about custody and parenting time.

Arizona courts prefer that divorcing couples come to an agreement on their own about physical and legal custody, the latter of which concerns decisions about education, religion, health and other lifestyle issues. The underlying policy is that parents who cooperate and make decisions together will not only reduce conflict that is stressful for kids but also come up with better solutions than a judge or mediator might impose. After all, parents know their children best, including their temperament, behavioral quirks, likes and dislikes and social relationships.

If you and your spouse want joint custody but can’t decide on a visitation schedule, a judge will consider such factors as the child’s age, each parent’s relationship with the child, work and school or daycare schedules and how far the parents live from one another.

Understanding the amount of parenting time and schedule a judge is likely to order will help you set your expectations and could motivate the child’s other parent to cooperate with you to develop a mutually agreeable schedule. This is typically done by considering the family’s work, school and daycare schedules and the child’s extracurricular activities that are part of your child’s routine. The courts provide sample schedules that take into account the child’s age and developmental stage.

Besides settling on a visitation schedule, you will also have to satisfy other requirements of the plan, which include:

  • how you will handle exchanging the child between the parents
  • how you will settle any issues that arise and how often you will revisit your plan
  • how you will make decisions about the child’s health, education and religious upbringing

Transitioning from one residence to two is disruptive to children, but the tumult can be eased when parents put a consistent plan in place early on. Consulting a family law attorney who is familiar with custody arrangements and parenting issues can help you set up a plan that serves your child’s best interests.

If you are contemplating divorce or need help with a child custody or parenting matter, contact Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. for a free consultation at our Scottsdale office. You can reach us by phone at [ln::phone] or contact us online.