Divorce can be a stressful experience, especially when it involves children and the critical decisions to make about their lifestyle and future. Both parents share the duty and goal of helping their son or daughter succeed. Preferably both caregivers play the lead role at separate times to satisfy that dynamic.
Arizona courts weigh numerous factors when awarding parenting time and legal decision-making responsibilities in the best interests of your child. Ideally, that would be close to equal, but geography and work schedules can make that challenging. Evening outings and alternating weekends in each household are all part of parenting time. So are day-to-day decisions like what to have for dinner and when to get a haircut.
But what about the major life choices?
Big ticket items
Legal decision-making involves more than how much time children spend with mom and dad and where. It answers questions about health care, religious upbringing and education. Arizona law grants sole or joint legal decision-making authority to parents contemplating these typical scenarios for their child(ren):
- Whether they will attend church or receive religious education
- Required surgery
- Attend summer camp out of state
- Changing high schools
- Pursuing an athletic scholarship
Joint legal custody requires a written co-parenting plan that spells out custody rights and privileges with a parenting time schedule. Predictability, consistency and open communication are key to avoiding conflict and court intervention.
Talk about your options
Custody can be a confusing and challenging component of divorce. You want to protect your best interests, but, most importantly, set your child up to succeed.
Each child and parenting plan are unique and will depend on the details of your case. It might be beneficial to talk with a divorce and child custody attorney experienced in family law who can help you during a tough time.