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Parenting Plans: A Gift of Stability
“What will happen now that my parents are in different houses?”
“Where will I go to school?”
“Where will I spend holidays?”
These are common questions children may have once they know about a divorce. Even if they don’t voice these concerns, they may be thinking these thoughts. A parenting plan prepared by a family law attorney can help parents answer these questions for their children to provide stability in their lives.
Parenting plans outline a plan as to how parents will work together to make decisions about their children’s health, education, and religious education (if applicable). Parenting plans also provide a schedule for when the child lives with each parent. For parents with more conflict, a parenting plan also provides guidelines for mediation when the two parents disagree.
Here is an example of a parenting plan: A child may attend school while living with his mother, but his father is to be present at parent-teacher conferences and IEP meetings. The child may need both parents to attend a doctor’s appointment to determine if the child needs medication, but his father may carry him on his health insurance as part of a child support agreement. The plan may call for his mother to drop him off at his father’s house every Friday afternoon and for his father to return him on Sunday on every weekend except the first weekend of the month. This same plan might call for the parents to alternate who has him on Christmas and Thanksgiving and for his father to have him every July and for one of the two weeks of his Christmas break. In this way, the child has a definite schedule and knows his parents are involved in major health and educational decisions. The parenting plan can be adapted based on the child’s age and needs. As with other custody issues, the child’s best interest dictates whether the judge will approve the plan.
The Arizona courts have provided a Parenting Plan Guide for parents’ review. This guide can help both parents make decisions about their children’s schedule and contains helpful information on things to consider based on the child’s development.
Even with this helpful guide, developing a parenting plan can seem daunting. Consulting with a family law attorney can help with this process.
Please contact our firm for more information or call us at 480-345-2652 to schedule a consultation.