A Look at an Arizona Parenting Plan

arizona parenting planArizonans considering a divorce and those in the midst of a divorce are likely wondering what their son or daughter’s living arrangement will be like in the months and years ahead.  There is also the matter of how the parents will make decisions on behalf of their offspring.  Arizona law mandates divorcing couples who desire joint custody of their child or kids create a parenting plan in writing.  This written plan must have a visitation schedule that resolves disputes pertaining to parenting time and custody.

Click here for a pdf on parenting time in Arizona.

Why Arizona Requires Parenting Agreements

Arizona courts push for divorcing parents to reach an agreement about the legal and physical custody of children.  Legal custody matters as it shapes decisions about health, education, lifestyle and religion.  Arizona courts prefer divorcing couples reach an agreement on these important issues prior to actually divorcing as parents who get along and make decisions in unison tend to minimize stressful conflict.

The overarching aim of establishing a parenting plan is to serve the child’s best interest.  Aside from reducing the amount of conflict the child is exposed to, creating a parenting agreement typically provides better solutions than a mediator or judge is likely to hand down.  The bottom line is parents know their kids better than judges, mediators and others.  Everything from the child’s preferences, temperament, social relationships and behavioral issues will play a part in the parenting plan and life after parental divorce.

The Issue of Joint Custody

In many divorces, both parents seek joint custody of their child or children.  However, the issue of establishing a mutually acceptable visitation schedule is challenging.  The judge will analyze factors ranging from the child’s relationship with each individual parent to the child’s age and beyond.  Even  the distance the parents live apart from one another matters.  This distance along with daycare, work and school scheduling can determine whether joint custody is permitted.  Though there is no guarantee you will be provided with joint custody of your child, making an effort to live near your offspring and treating your former spouse in a civil manner will certainly bolster your case.

A Mutually Beneficial Parenting Schedule

If divorcing parents are unable to reach a parenting plan on their own, the judge will order a parenting schedule that proves mutually beneficial to the child as well as the parents.  Once this schedule is set, you will know exactly when you will be able to see your little ball of joy.  However, it does not have to reach the point at which the court makes the decision on your behalf.  Treat your former flame and your child with respect and you might be able to develop a parenting schedule that works for all parties.  If establishing a mutually beneficial parenting plan does not initially prove easy, do not give up.  Take each party’s unique schedules into account including your child’s extracurricular activities.  Be mindful of these complexities and creating a parenting schedule that benefits everyone will prove that much easier.

Additional Requirements of the Parenting Plan

Aside from establishing a visitation schedule that details when parents will visit their child, Arizona parenting plans also require several other important elements.  The manner in which the parents make decisions pertaining to the child’s education, health, religion and other lifestyle choices must be addressed.  Even the manner in which issues will be dealt with and the frequency at which the parenting plan will be revisited must be noted.  To the surprise of many Arizonans seeking divorce, parenting plans go as far as detailing how the child’s exchange between the parents will be handled.  It is clear parenting plans in Arizona are quite complicated and detailed.  You need an attorney on your side to guide you through this process and ensure your child’s quality of life is sustained or improved across posterity.

Click here to find out how are virtual assets divided in an Arizona divorce?

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