How to Negotiate a Parenting Plan
Organize Necessary Papers
Both parents should have copies of their work schedules, including future business trips or vacations. Also needed are the children’s school and after school schedules; medical and dental records; and names and addresses of the children’s friends. The medical records should include any and all expenses not covered by insurance. Keep the records and accounts organized, and always make copies for the other parent. If a plan is not negotiated, the court will examine the degree of cooperation or absence of it shown by both parties, which may influence the court’s decision. Therefore, it should be a priority to keep excellent records and share information with the other parent.
Take the High Moral Ground
The Arizona legislature and courts take ‘the best interests of the child’ seriously. Parents should respect that standard, and behave appropriately. Pamphlets issued by Arizona Superior Courts warn against quarreling in front of the children. Discussing the legal issues with your children or disparaging another parent in front of your children, could be grounds for modifying a joint legal decision-making authority. Children are not helped when parents fight, parents question the child about the other parent, or attempt to undercut the other parent’s relationship with the child or children. Ideally, parents who are no longer together will share the obligation of raising children, with the goal of building a better future for their children.
Honor All Agreements
If one parent’s circumstances change, they can apply for a modification of spousal support or child support. There are plenty of state run programs to help people in financial difficulties. If people stop paying child support, the legal penalties are harsh. The state sponsored clearing house can have wages, tax refunds, and paychecks garnished. Depending on the amount owed, the defaulter may be charged with a felony and lose state licenses. Since people can go to court, and have payments reduced, there is no need to default without warning. Studies have shown that parents who pay child support are likely to be more involved in every aspect of their children’s lives. Get help, and remain part of the family.
What is required under Arizona Law?
Arizona’s Domestic Relations law sets forth specific requirements for a legally valid parenting plan. In the absence of an agreement, each Parent presents a Parenting Plan to the court. Both proposals must include:
- Whether Legal Decision-Making is sole or jointly shared
- The rights and duties of each parent toward the children for personal and health care; education and religion
- A concrete, reasonable parenting time schedule. The schedule must specify how the children will be exchanged, who takes them to the exchange point, its location and must include the children vacations and holidays.
- A plan to mediate any disputes or abuses of the parenting plan
- A scheduled review of the plan by both parents
- A schedule of all communications about the children—setting both time and frequency of those discussions
- A statement from each parent that he or she understands and accepts the plan
It is important parents understand what needs to be in a proposed parenting plan, as well as understand the necessary documents to establish the plan is in the best interests of the children.