How Mesa Parents Can Work Together to Create Effective Parenting Plans
One of the most difficult tasks of the divorce process is creating custody arrangements. An effective co-parenting agreement must serve the best interests of the child, while also protecting each parent’s legal rights to custody. This is a complicated and emotional process. By relying on the experience of an attorney, parents can access creative solutions which are flexible enough to work for their unique circumstances. An experienced Mesa child custody attorney can help you find the legal solutions that will best meet your family’s needs.
How Arizona law determines custody arrangements
Arizona law directs family court judges to determine custody in accordance with the best interests of the child (see Arizona Statute 25-403). Pursuant to Statute 25-403.02., parents are to be advised of joint custody, and the court must consider it at the request of either parent. This is one of many ways in which Arizona law encourages parents to work together in the best interests of the child.
If parents agree to an award of joint custody without submitting the issue to a judge for determination, they formalize the details of this arrangement in a written agreement called a parenting plan. A parenting plan helps reduce the chance of later misunderstandings and conflicts. One of the most common struggles in creating a parenting plan is balancing the best interests of the child against the competing legal rights of each parent. For example: Arizona Statute 25.402 allows judges to order shared physical custody in a manner which assures that the child will continue to have contact with both parents. This means that a parenting plan must be created to provide time with each parent, while ultimately serving the best interests of the child. This can become a logistical challenge fueled by each parent’s desire to maximize his or her own parenting time.
Guidelines for creating an effective parenting plan
Many of the problems inherent in parenting plans are avoidable. First, parents must always remember that a parenting plan serves the best interest of the child. Parents often fight passionately for more parenting time, decision-making power and other details. While these are important parenting rights, neither parent should be allowed to override what is ultimately best for the child.
Second, parents need to understand the plan can be as flexible and creative as necessary in order meet the specific needs of a particular family. There is no single vacation schedule or school choice that is right for every family. By exploring creative options, and not getting stuck on ideas of how things should be, parents can access flexible solutions which best serve their children’s needs.
Finally, the terms of a parenting plan should be flexible enough to address a family’s logistical concerns as the child grows older. While parenting plans can always be re-negotiated as necessary, this can be an emotional task which ultimately harms a co-parenting relationship. It’s important to get the plan right the first time in order to minimize the potential for conflict down the road.
Co-parenting does not have to be confrontational. With open communication and effective legal strategies, an experienced Mesa child custody attorney can help you create the parenting plan that is best for you and your children.