Parenting Conferences in Arizona: What Purpose do They Serve?
Arizona judges will often rely on a powerful tool to make the best decision in a child custody case. This tool is known as a parenting conference. Parenting conferences in Arizona can provide a judge with a ton of essential information about the ability of the two parents to guarantee the best interest of the child.
What is a Parenting Conference?
Parenting conferences are somewhat similar to mediation but there is one big difference – the information gathered and exchanged during such a meeting is not confidential. In fact, it is to be used in court when child custody decisions are to be made.
Usually, parenting conferences have a couple of main focal points. The place where a child will reside in the future, day-to-day decisions about the wellbeing of the child and the legal custody are all going to be discussed between two individuals getting a divorce or two parents who have decided to no longer live together.
A judge is the party that orders the two parents to appear in a parenting conference through Conciliation Services. The conciliator will then have the right to ask questions and gather evidence about the wellbeing of the child. The two parents have to fill out a questionnaire and submit it to the conciliator for evaluation.
Parenting conferences in Arizona don’t have to be attended by a legal representative. Still, some parents feel threatened by the prospect of going through this process on their own. As a result, they prefer to work with an attorney through the questions, the meetings and the collection of evidence.
How a Custody Decision is Made Based on Arizona Parenting Conferences
A joint session with both parents is a mandatory part of a parenting conference. Depending on the situation, the conciliator may request individual sessions with either parent to get a better understanding of the family dynamics.
It is possible for the two parents to reach a custody agreement during the parenting conference. If the conciliator believes that the agreement reached is in the best interest of the child, they will make the respective recommendation to the judge. The conciliator is also expected to fill out a detailed report that outlines the best opportunities for a child, as well as the areas of concern.
Whenever agreement cannot be reached on all issues pertaining to the custody of the child, a judicial review hearing will be scheduled. The judge will rely on the information provided in the report compiled by the conciliator to make a final ruling.
Preparing for a Parenting Conference
How can a person prepare for a parenting conference? This is the most important question that parents have before attending such a session.
The one thing to realize is that nobody knows what types of questions are going to be asked by the conciliator. As such, preparing for a certain scenario in advance is impossible.
If you are about to go through a parenting conference, you can still prepare yourself and try to organize your thoughts. Sit down with your AZ family lawyer and draft an outline that contains your points and the arguments you want to make in favor of a certain custody decision.
Having a specific request in terms of the most important custodial questions is also crucial because knowing what they’re dealing with will enable conciliators to speed things up.
As a parent, you should also consider bringing documents and reports to the conference. These have to be provided in three copies – one for the conciliator, one for your former spouse and one for yourself.
Finally, remember that the parenting conference is not confidential. Be careful about the statements you make and the manner in which you interact with your former spouse. A slip-up could have a negative effect on the conciliator report and it will be taken in consideration by the judge.