The Necessity of Parenting Plans

Written parenting plans provide children and parents with predictability and consistency and can prevent future conflict.  Courts prefer that parents reach agreements about parenting time.  When parents reach agreements, they are more likely to cooperate as their children grow up.  Children do best when their parents cooperate with each other.  The opposite is also true.  Children who experience ongoing conflict between parents are at high risk for suffering serious long-term emotional problems.  If parents need help to work out the schedules, court-sponsored and private mediation services are available in most Arizona counties.

In Arizona, parents may have sole or joint custody.  Parents may agree that one parent will have sole custody or that joint custody is in the best interest of the children.  A parent who has sole custody has the right to make major decision about the help, education, and religious upbringing of the children. Parents who have joint custody make such decisions together, unless otherwise specified.  Parents with joint custody do not necessarily have equal parenting time.

The key to successful co-parenting is a written parenting plan that states the agreement parents reach about custody, the sharing of rights and privileges, and the schedule for parenting time.  In Arizona, joint custody requires a written parenting plan that must be reviewed periodically and provides a way to resolve conflicts about custody.  The parenting plan also must include a statement that joint custody does not necessarily mean equal parenting time.