Creating a Parenting Plan: Co-Parenting in Arizona

Components of a parenting plan.

Creating a Parenting Plan: Co-Parenting in Arizona

When decisions regarding legal decision-making (custody) of children go through the court in Arizona, a legal parenting plan agreement will also be established. While legal decision-making refers to who is given the authority to make major decisions in regard to any children involved, as well as whether that authority is joint, full, or joint with final say, it does not outline the parenting time (visitation) that a parent in awarded. Just because one parent is awarded full legal decision-making does not mean the other parent is no longer able to visit with their child.

Parenting plans are documents that state the physical time that each parent is able to spend with their child, with provisions for special circumstances, holidays, school breaks, and other out-of-the-ordinary circumstances. In some cases, parenting time amounts are court-ordered. In others, parents are able to come to terms on their own. Parenting plans will typically include the following:

General Parenting Time Schedules

Parents will be given a specific amount of time throughout the year to spend with their children. If the situation is amicable, parents may be able to agree on parenting time and set their own terms. In contested cases, the court will order parenting time. This may be equal (or nearly so) or one parent may be awarded primary parenting time.

In cases of equal parenting time, parents may alternate weeks or choose another similar plan, such as the 5-2-2-5 plan, which breaks down weeks to allow each parent to alternate having their child for a long weekend.


Parenting plans include details regarding who will drop off and pick up the child when they pass from parent to parent based on the parenting time schedule. Parents will also need to decide at what time and what location this will occur. Children are picked up at a neutral location, such as a retail parking lot, a location halfway between each parents’ home, or at one of the parents’ homes. Parents can also determine if rideshare service may be used.

School Breaks

Special parenting time schedules may be set for any school breaks that are longer than four days, such as summer break, winter break, spring break, or fall break.

Vacation and Travel

Parenting plans allow for parents to be awarded a certain amount of vacation time with the child. They will also dictate how far in advance one parent must communicate to the other their vacation plans. Additionally, they may dictate how long a parent can travel out of state for with the child, along with what contact information must be provided and what sort of consent is required from the other parent.

Holiday Schedule

The standard method of splitting holidays between parents is for parents to alternate years or for each parent to be awarded certain holidays during odd or even years. Usually, parents should evenly divide holidays each year so that one parent isn’t left with little to no holiday time with their child in any given year. This schedule will include provisions for three-day weekends and the child’s birthday.

Phone Contact

Some families allow children to have 24/7 phone contact with each parent. In other cases, telephone contact with one parent may be limited during the other parent’s parenting time. This may limit the other parent to such time such as only making contact during daytime hours or specific after-school hours.

Parental Access to Information

Under state law, both parents are entitled to equal access to their child’s documents, records, and information regarding education, medical needs, etc. If one parent does no comply, the other parent may request an award of attorney fees incurred as a result of needing to go to court to enforce this right.


Parenting plans may outline whether each parent can collaborate in making major or emergency medical decisions for their child or if one parent has final authority if an agreement is not reached.


Parents may choose if religious issues are not applicable to their family, if each parent may take their child to their own place of worship, or if both parents agree the child should be brought up in a specific faith.

Additional Considerations

Parenting plans are tailored to each family’s specific needs. They can include additional provisions such as:

  • When to notify the other parent of address changes, relocations, or emergencies.
  • Whether or not a parent can relocate and the parameters for such.
  • Whether consultation with the other parent is required for enrollment in extra-curricular activities.
  • Whether the other parent should be used as primary caretaker if a baby-sitter would otherwise be required.
  • Which issues require the written consent of the other parent.
  • The frequency of communication between the parents regarding the child.


Parenting plans are typically only modified in situations of major change. If you feel your parenting plan needs to be modified, or if you need help creating one, reach out to the family law attorneys at Rideout Law Group.


Rideout Law Group handles cases throughout the entire state of Arizona, with offices located in Scottsdale and Lake Havasu City. Our attorneys are experienced in handling family law cases. For a free consultation, call 480-584-3328.

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