Understanding the Different Types of Parenting Time

Parents have a fundamental right to a relationship with their children. Unless a parent puts their child’s safety or well-being at risk, he or she should have ample time with the child. When parents divorce or end a non-marital relationship, a major concern is organizing the care of any minor children.

Two fundamental issues concerning children are legal decision-making and parenting time. Legal decision-making addresses who can make decisions for the child(ren) and parenting time is where the child will reside. In many cases, the parents are awarded joint legal decision-making and have an equal physical parenting time schedule, while sometimes only one parent has sole legal decision-making. Except in cases of child endangerment, the non-custodial parent is entitled to parenting time with any children of the marriage or relationship.

Arizona recognizes three different types of parenting time: Unsupervised, supervised and therapeutic. With unsupervised or regular parenting time, the child goes to the non-custodial parent’s residence or other convenient location. During the parenting time, the parent is usually free to take the child to any activity, event or gathering he or she deems appropriate. However, there are often restrictions on taking a child out of state or out of the country without the other parent’s prior consent. The parenting time schedule is normally negotiated by the parents and, upon the judge’s approval, becomes an order of the court.

The court can order supervised parenting time if the judge is convinced that the child's welfare would be jeopardized if left alone with the non-custodial parent. This often occurs when the non-custodial parent has a recent history of risky behavior (i.e. violence, substance abuse, child neglect) and is not trustworthy. The parenting time is supervised by a licensed facility / entity at the cost of the parent who is required to have supervision and can occur at the parent’s home, or another agreed upon location. Most supervised parenting time is scheduled during the day and last for a few hours at a time. The purpose of supervised parenting time is to encourage the parent-child relationship while also protecting the child from harm.

Therapeutic parenting time is reserved for situations where there are serious problems in the parent/child relationship that warrant professional intervention. The parenting time is supervised by a therapist or other mental health professional, such as a social worker. The purpose is to encourage a healthy relationship while ensuring the child’s safety and psychological well-being. In many cases, a judge orders a therapist to attend parenting time and report back to the court on any progress or problems with parent-child relations.

Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. in Scottsdale, Arizona serves family law clients throughout the greater metropolitan area. If you have a custody or visitation matter, feel free to contact us online or call 602-789-3497 for a consultation.