Getting divorced is a rough experience for anyone, the least of all your kids. One of the ways in which you can make things easier for your children in the case that you and their other parent are no longer together is to make a parenting plan.

A parenting plan is a document that outlines the rights and responsibilities that each parent shares when it comes to raising their children. It will cover things like who gets the children at what times, throughout the year and in the case of special holidays. It will also include rules and information about how each parent will communicate with the other and what will happen in the case of a dispute.

Having a parenting plan can really make things easier because it creates a solid foundation for the children to get accustomed with. So how do you go about making a parenting plan?

When is the Right Time to Set Up a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is a necessary step of getting divorced or splitting up if you were not married and if you have children. Arizona law requires you to have a parenting plan in place that will outline parenting time and how decisions regarding the children are to be made.

Because of the fact that it is a necessary step to getting divorced it is always a good idea to start thinking about your parenting plan early in the process of the divorce or legal separation. As early in the process as possible, really.

You’ll need to take into account things like the children’s ages and how well they get along with each parent or how well they communicate with each parent. Points you’ll want to focus on like these may be included on the legal form for your specific county but often a standardized form doesn’t offer enough information about your family’s specific circumstances and so it can be a good idea to use a custom parenting plan instead.

When creating a parenting plan, it’s important to include as much relevant information as possible. Rather than start with a blank sheet of paper, print off a copy of your county’s form and use that as the basis for your custom form.

What Should Be In a Parenting Plan?

When making a parenting plan there are provisions which are required to be in the plan and those which aren’t required but are strongly recommended. Keep in mind that there could be provisions which you need in place that aren’t listed here; each family is unique and has its own challenges and so no webpage is going to be able to give you all the answers for your specific circumstances.

Required provisions for your parenting plan include:

  • Parenting Time Schedule: This sets forth when each parent will have the children. If you ever had a friend who had their kids every other weekend, this was because of the parenting time schedule they had in place.
  • Legal Decision-Making: This indicates whether the parents will share joint legal decision-making authority or whether one parent will be the sole authority in terms of decisions.
  • Medical Care: This provision regards whether or not both parents can make emergency medical decisions for the child.
  • Education and Extracurricular Activities: This sets forth how the parents will make decisions regarding the children’s education and the extracurricular activities they take part in. Questions such as which parent attends parent-teacher meetings are handled here.
  • Religious Participation: Arizona requires you specify the religious rights for the child. Will they be allowed to visit a place of worship and be educated in a particular religion? This section determines it.

While the following provisions are not required, they are strongly recommended where applicable:

  • Co-Parenting Guidelines: These include guidelines for the child such as social media use, driving, employment and more. It is a rather broad category to allow you lots of room for specifying.
  • Communication Response Time: This lays out how the parents will communicate with each other and how much response time they have to respond before an action is taken.
  • Dispute Resolution: This lays out how the parents will settle disputes should they arise.
  • Age-Based Rules: These are specific guidelines which relate to the children when they are a certain age. These are guidelines which the child will age out of and so end up being less important with time.
  • Safety: Any issues relating to the children’s safety are included here.
  • Relocating: Should a parent want to move out of the state or move more than 100 miles away, this informs how that will work and what permissions and notice are necessary.
  • Child Care: This covers third-party caregivers, daycares and issues that arise of that nature.
  • Expenses: This section will make it easier to tell who is responsible for what expenses or how expenses are to be split between the parents in the future.

What Are the Required Statements that Need to be In a Parenting Plan?

In Arizona your parenting plan must have the following statements:

  • You must acknowledge Arizona law 25-403.05 (B), which requires a parent to notify the other if they learn that a sex offender has access to the children.
  • You must acknowledge Arizona law 25-403.06, which gives both parents access to the children’s medical, school, police and court records.
  • It must state that the parents are required to follow the parenting plan if there is a dispute until such a time as it is resolved.
  • It must state if there is a history of domestic violence or allegations of domestic violence, DUI or drug possession within the last year.

How Can I Get Help with My Parenting Plan?

If you are putting together a parenting plan and don’t know what to include, don’t panic. It’s natural that you should find the experience a little uncomfortable. It is a bit overwhelming and not something many people go through more than once.

If you need help setting up a parenting plan then an experienced attorney will be your best friend. At Arizona Family Law Attorneys, we make families our business. We know exactly what it’s like to create a parenting plan and we can help you with yours. Give us a call at (480) 448-0608 to learn more about how we can help.