When an Arizona couple with minor children decide to end their marriage, one of the most difficult decisions is which parent will have custody of the children. Arizona courts, after consulting with child psychiatrists and psychologists, family attorneys, and other experts in the field have developed a concept called a “parenting plan.” Understanding the aim of a parenting plan, how it is developed, and how it can be changed will help every parent endure the difficulty of this stage of a divorce.
The basics of parenting plans
All parenting plans are developed by the parents. If they are unable to agree on a specific issue, such as the frequency of visits, the court will make that decision. Parents who can actively engage in the process of drafting a parenting plan will have more control over the outcome, and the children will benefit from seeing their parents cooperate in working out plans for their future.
The essential benefit of a parenting plan is a certainty for both the parents and the children. Once a plan is completed and approved by the court, all concerned parties will know what to expect in the future.
Some of the details
The parenting plan must include a statement about which parent will have physical custody of the children and which parent will be authorized to make decisions for the child regarding education, health care, choice of religion (if any), and similar matters.
A parent who has sole custody of a child has the right to make major decisions about such matters without consulting the other parent. The plan must address logistical issues such as how will transportation be provided and how and where will exchanges take place.
What makes a co-parenting plan successful
According to a pamphlet published by the Arizona Supreme Court, the key to successful co-parenting is a written agreement that is accepted by both parents. The plan should reflect the ages of the children, their favorite activities, how they relate to each parent and how flexible are the children’s and the parent’s schedules. If one parent has concerns about the fitness of the other parent, the matter can be raised with the court.