Arizona family law has unquestionably evolved in recent years. Especially significant changes have occurred in the key area of post-divorce custody and related parental visitation rights to children.
A quick clarification here: Actually, the term “custody” was statutorily supplanted several years ago in Arizona by the designation “legal decision-making and parenting time.”
An Arizona legal source discussing that change underscores a revised judicial and socially held view that children’s interests are best promoted in most instances when parents make key decisions jointly. And they are yet further enhanced when a child is able “to spend the maximum amount of time with both parents.”
Candidly, some divorces still feature an outcome similar to what was once commonly (and is still occasionally) called sole custody. One ex-spouse can still have near or absolute discretion over where children will live after divorce and outcomes concerning matters like education, health, vacations, religious upbringing and so forth.
It is a prevalent presumption among state legal authorities, though, that kids in divorces are generally best served by more equal/shared parental involvement in their lives.
A divorce parenting plan: What exactly is that?
Imagine trying to build a house without a blueprint or assembling a complex machine or piece of equipment without instructions and a diagram.
Having a plan is generally advisable when undertaking any new project or challenge, right?
Arizona legal authorities certainly think so when it comes to successful co-parenting in the wake of divorce. In fact, state law renders it mandatory for divorcing spouses in the state who have shared parenting rights to have a written parenting plan in place.
Implicit in that directive is the judicial view that essentially equal parenting time spawns both opportunities and challenges. A dutifully considered and well-drafted agreement — one that an Arizona court website addressing parenting plans states “must be reviewed periodically and provide a way to resolve conflicts” – can be an essential tool helping to promote the best interests of every family member.
What subject matter might a parenting plan address?
Every family is different, so every parenting plan will have a singular look and feel. Commonly considered determinants that might factor into a final product include these:
- Number of children and their ages
- Special needs of a child
- Child’s relationship with friends and family members
- Daycare requirements
- Transportation concerns
- Educational factors and extracurricular activities
- Parents’ schedules and flexibility
It is strongly preferred that parents take the first crack at crafting a parenting plan. A proven family law attorney can provide relevant input and guidance in the process. A court will step in and accomplish the task if a mother and father are unable to do so.