What is an Arizona Parenting Plan in Child Custody Cases?

Getting children in the middle of a parental tug-of-war during a divorce could be incredibly damaging. While it may be difficult to come to an agreement, most parents are keeping their children’s best interest in mind when going through the legal battle. So, what is an Arizona parenting plan?

Some states like Arizona have made steps towards simplifying the custody process. The term custody has been replaced by other legal definitions like parenting time and parenting plans.

What is a Parenting Plan?

arizona parenting planA parenting plan is usually an agreement that results from negotiations and mediation between the two parents. The plan is an outline that features provisions about both legal and custodial authority in the case of a divorce.

The parenting plan also includes provisions about the amount of time that children get to spend with each of the parent. It will go as far as to include provisions about who will be responsible for transportation and how much time parents should spend on discussing the future of their children with each other.

Usually, a parenting plan should be produced by both individuals going through a divorce. If they can’t reach an agreement, however, the court will be responsible for determining the obligations and rights of the two parents after the divorce.

Legal Provisions in Arizona Parenting Plan

Parenting plans are outlined in Arizona Revised Statutes 25-403.02.

According to the statute, if the two parents cannot agree on a mutual plan, both of them will have to provide separate plans to court. The court will examine both of these documents and produce a final parenting plan that enables the two former spouses to share decision making and time with the children as much as possible.

The regulation also suggests that shared decision making is not the same as equal amounts of parenting time. Such a decision is typically made by the court to protect the interest and the safety of the children.

When making a decision about the parenting plan and the best interest of children, a judge will typically take a look at the following:

  • The wishes of the two parents and whether there are major differences between those
  • The wishes of the child
  • The relationship that the child has with each parent and how close they are
  • The relationship with extended family and siblings
  • How much of an adjustment the child will have to make in terms of education, community and home
  • The previous childcare role that the parents had
  • The mental health of the parents
  • A history of abuse, neglect or domestic violence
  • A history of false reporting of abuse and domestic violence on behalf of one parent

Whenever it is in the best interest of the child, joint custody will be granted to the two parents. Arizona courts do not favor the mother in such proceedings – an important consideration that fathers going through a divorce should keep in mind.

Other Considerations

Apart from the primary provisions mentioned above, a parenting plan may focus on a couple of additional considerations that interest the two parents.

Rules for relocation can be entered in the plan, if one or both of the parents have intentions to move in the future. Arizona has strict regulations pertaining to the relocation of children and these will have to be taken in consideration whenever the clause is being drafted. For example, the spouse that plans to move will have to provide the other one with a 60-day notice in advance.

Parents are also given the right to enter any other provision of personal importance in the parenting plan.

Provisions for extra-curricular activities, medical expenses and future educational needs could be outlined in an attempt to prevent conflict in the future. If you are wondering about a specific childcare concern that you have, you should definitely see an experienced attorney. A lawyer will help you draft a detailed Arizona parenting plan that addresses all of your concerns about the upbringing and safety of the children.