Arizona law allows divorcing parents to decide among themselves how parenting time will be divided. Indeed, the courts prefer that parents work together to develop parenting plans because those who have reached an agreement are more likely to cooperate with one another as their children age. The primary purposes of parenting plans are to allow consistency and predictability in future interactions and minimize future conflict. The plan should set forth the parents’ understanding regarding legal custody, the parenting time schedule and the ways in which rights and privileges will be shared. The plan must contain a statement about custody, setting forth whether sole legal custody is given to one parent or the parents will have joint legal custody.
In Arizona, sole legal custody means that one parent has the right and responsibility to make major parenting decisions regarding the education, health and religious environment of the child. In a joint legal custody situation, both parents are involve in these decisions.
If the parents agree to joint legal custody, then a written parenting plan is required. The plan is subject to periodic review and it must include a method to resolve parenting time and custody conflicts. It must also include an acknowledgement by the parents that parenting time may be unequal even though the parents have agreed to joint legal custody.
The specific form of a parenting plan will vary based on the facts of the situation. A parent who has questions about child custody may want to consult with a family law attorney who can assist in the drafting of a parenting plan that complies with Arizona law.
Source: Arizona Courts, “WHY PARENTING PLANS ARE NECESSARY “, October 24, 2014