Creating a Parenting Time Schedule
Parents who are divorced or separated, while still sharing custody of their children, will need to establish a parenting plan that includes setting their parenting time with their children. Parenting time sets the time that each parent can physically spend with their child, whether as visitation or the children alternating between each parent’s home. Everything parenting time schedule is different and will be tailored to the needs of each child and family dynamic.
When it comes to establishing parenting time, important factors to consider include:
- The age and maturity of the children.
- The wishes of the children, if old enough.
- The children’s relationship with, and attachment to, each parent.
- The ability of the children to adjust to new environments.
- Special needs of the children or either parent.
- Distance between each parent’s home.
- Flexibility of the children’s or parent’s schedules regarding school, work, activities, etc.
- Ability of the parents to cooperate and stay in communication.
- Childcare needs.
- Transportation abilities.
- Issues with substance abuse, domestic violence, physical ailments, or mental health with either parent.
- Availability and reliability of each parent.
Parenting plans will be proposed to the court judge. For those getting divorced, these plans will be included within the Dissolution of Marriage Decree. The court will always rule in the best interest of the children involved.
According A.R.S. 25-103, Arizona courts find it in the best interest of the child:
- To have substantial, frequent, meaningful, and continuing parenting time with both parents.
- To have both parents participate in decision-making about the child.
It is common practice for parenting plans to evolve over time. These are referred to as modifications and must be approved by a judge. As children grow up, they will be able to provide input regarding their parenting time schedule. Parenting time may adjust for the changing needs of the children, taking into account their own wishes, their extra-curricular schedules, and their desire to spend time with friends, dating, or at after-school jobs, as well as changes in the parents’ home location, work schedule, or home environment.
Schedules surrounding holidays, and school breaks or vacations, take precedence in parenting time planning. Parents should consider all holidays and school breaks when it comes to creating their parenting time schedule so the time is clearly understood and agreed upon.
Parents who live far apart from each other should consider the impact this long distance will have on their children. Factors such as travel cost, significant time apart from one parent, and missing developmental milestones are among those that should be considered.
Parenting time may be equal, inequal, or long-distance. Courts prefer to begin with a presumption of equal parenting time but may order inequal time when one parent is not capable of caring for the children in a larger capacity.
Common equal parenting plans include one-week-on/one-week-off schedules, as well as the 5-2-2-5 schedule, allowing for more varied days for each parent.
Parenting time is often a highly contested issue in divorce cases. The experienced family law attorneys at Rideout Law Group are able to offer expertise in these cases to act in the best interest of the children involved and prepare the best possible parenting time plan.
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 cases that involve parenting plans. For a free consultation, call 480-584-3328.