Constructing a Parenting Plan

Constructing a Parenting Plan

Records, Record, Record!

The best asset when creating your ideal parenting plan is documentation. Without record of your children’s activities as well as yours, you will be at a disadvantage when a judge determines parenting time and responsibilities. If you’re not a schedule or detail-oriented person, there are journal applications, such as With My Kids, you can use on your phone to help you keep track of activities for you, your children, and your separated spouse.

Keeping records is especially important if parents can’t agree upon a parenting plan, and the court has to resolve the matter.

Parents mostly need record of their children’s agendas and paperwork, but they also need to document their own work schedules, business trips, and vacations. When presenting the children’s records they need to show their school and after school schedules, the names of children’s friends and addresses, and medical and dental records. For the medical and dental records, parents must  include all expenses paid for by the children’s insurance.

As you can see, the list of paperwork needed is quite long and can easily get cluttered. Keeping organized is important. Also, we suggest providing the other parent with copies of everything. Doing so will hold your ground in court when you face the judge who decides parenting time and duties.

The Child’s Best Interest

It is easy to get caught up in hurt or vengeful emotions when forging a parenting plan. The number one goal is to set the standard that everything focuses on the best interests of the child. Arizona legislature and courts have made it clear that this is what they always aim for, and the parents should as well. To show the significance of this goal, Arizona Superior Courts issued pamphlets discussing how arguing in front of children is bad parenting. Not only fighting, but discussing legal matters or disrespecting the other parent in front of your children is also deigned poor behavior. This type of conduct can be grounds for modification of joint legal decision-making authority. The Arizona courts take parental behavior very seriously.

Make your children your number one priority. When parents dispute their problems in front of their kids, question their children about the other parent, or attempt undermine the relationship of their child and other parent they are only hindering their child and making the situation more difficult. Though it’s more challenging than for married couples, separated parents still have the duty of co-parenting their child or children.

Child Support Responsibilities

Parents may apply for modifications through the court if they come across problems or changes to their current situation. Also, there are plenty of state-run financial programs designed to help those in need.

Therefore, there should be no excuses when it comes to paying child support. If a parent does decide to stop paying their child support, the consequences are harsh. Penalties include revoked wages, paychecks, tax refunds, and state license and even a possible felony charge. Statistics prove that parents who are full time child support payers are also full time parents, meaning they are more involved in every aspect of their children’s lives.

Arizona Laws for Making a Parenting Plan

Arizona Domestic Relations is what provides parents with the specific requirements for constructing their own Parenting Plan that they must present in court. Each document is important and must be attained. Access Legal, a company that creates legal documents regarding your specific situation, can help parents be prepared and successful when building their Parenting Plan. The documents needed include:

  1. If there is sole or joint legal decision making
  2. Health care, education, and religious responsibilities of each parent
  3. A solid parenting time schedule including who and where children are exchanged and the children’s vacations/holidays
  4. Plan for mediating disputes
  5. Scheduled time to review parenting plan
  6. Scheduled times to communicate all information about children
  7. A statement signed by each parent agreeing to the plan

If the parents cannot come to an agreement, then each parent will have to provide their own Parenting Plan and bring it to court so the judge can decide. When dealing with parenting obligations, it is worth the time to understand the needs for proposing a parenting plan. There are specific documents required and without them, your parenting plan will not be accomplished. Access Legal has the documents you need. Visit our family court documents page and find the parenting plan under Temporary Orders.

Enforcing Parenting Time in Arizona

The Ideal

The ideal situation for divorced parents with children is that they work together and share parenting time equally. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always occur. It is critical for children to have proper parenting time. Sometimes you need help in enforcing parenting time in Arizona. If any limitations are established, they need to be necessary and beneficial to the child. The A.R.S. 25-414 provides solutions for when parenting visitation is interrupted. Its purpose is to ensure an ideal setting and provide mechanisms that handle any kind of unfair disturbance.

Submitting a Complaint

If a situation does arise that makes you feel like your parenting time is being unfairly interrupted, you can file a complaint. Submitting a verified complaint is the best way to ask the courts to enforce your Parenting Plan. Once the complaint is submitted, a hearing will be held within 25 days, and the violating parent must appear. If the conclusion is that the parent had no justification for interrupting the other parent’s time, the judge will decide one of the following:

  1. Offending parent is contempt of court.
  2. A visit is owed to make up for disruption of time.
  3. Offending parent must pay for family counselling or parent education.

Other options for the family include:

  1. Mediation in hopes of developing better relationships to defer future conflicts.
  2. Acquiring a parenting-coordinator who will help with situations they can’t agree on.

After the hearing, the violating parent will also have the responsibility of paying all court fees.

Sole vs Joint Legal Decision Making

If there are multiple occurrences of a parent interrupting visitation time and he or she has sole legal decision making, we highly encourage you to seek modification. The court will look at the evidence and provide the best outcome for the child. If they find that the current situation isn’t effective, they may suggest changes to the visitation agreement. Pursuing joint legal decision making requires careful planning and preparation. It should never be done if you are trying to punish the other parent. The only motive to attempt joint decision making is wanting to give your child the best possible outcome.

Abiding by the Law

Not complying with the law is never smart, especially when Arizona courts provide several ways to modify and make changes to agreements if necessary. Parent-child contracts include: Parenting Plans, Legal Decision Making Policies, and Parenting Time Agreements. You can find all of these documents here. Such contracts verify the agreements that have been made by the parents. Under the circumstance that no agreement can be reached, the court will make the decision. If a parent still chooses to not comply, Arizona law will carry out the necessary consequences.

What Matters Most

Arizona has always followed the doctrine of keeping “the best interest in the child.” The ideal is for a divorced family to make an agreement and stick to it. The court has found this to be the second best option to married parents. The child’s future is predicted to be better when parents convey a “united front.” Often times, parents will use their child as a weapon toward each other. Not only does this create tension for the parents, but more importantly, the child. To ensure a child’s success when living in a divorced family, they must create and stand by plan.

At times, the established agreement can be harmful to the child, which is why Arizona has created means for modification. Speaking with a lawyer may help with the complication of things and with filing requests for modification, but you can file the necessary documents on your own. Modifying agreements in a structured environment is the best way to be effective.