When deciding on parenting time and future legal decisions for a minor child, the Arizona court system first allows each parent to create a parenting plan stating how they plan to handle everything. The court will then compare the parenting plans and see if the parents can agree on every aspect. The court will settle any disputes between the couple on any portions of the parenting plan, and it is the court’s goal to ensure that the accepted plan is in the best interests of the child.
The first aspect of the parenting plan is legal decision-making. The parents could assign these decisions to only one of them, or they could collaborate on every decision together. These decisions include education, religion and health care. The plan must explicitly state how the parents will communicate about the child and how often they will do so.
The plan also states which parent the child will live with and how often the child will visit with the other parent. This includes normal visitation, holidays and school vacations. It must outline where the parents will meet and who is responsible for transporting the child in each situation. The plan should also include details on how often the parents should review the terms in the future and what steps they will need to take to change any aspects of it.
The court requires this type of parent coordination to ensure that the terms are completely clear to both parents. It is important to note that the legal decision-making aspect of the plan is separate from the parenting time section because one does not necessarily affect the other. The court prefers to allow the parents to make the parenting plan, but they will step in if necessary to mediate when the parents cannot agree.
Source: Arizona State Legislature, “ Parenting plans“, September 21, 2014