Developing a Parenting Plan in Arizona

by | May 1, 2024 | Divorce

If you are contemplating a divorce and have minor children (under age 18) from your marriage, it will be important for you to learn about the options for developing a parenting plan in Arizona. Arizona law gives parents both the right and the obligation to care for their children post-divorce (except in extreme circumstances), and it also gives divorcing parents significant flexibility to develop a parenting time plan that works for them.

As we have discussed previously, there are several different types of post-divorce parenting time arrangements. If you and your spouse are willing to work together, collaboratively developing a custom-tailored parenting plan will give you maximum flexibility to develop a plan that addresses your respective needs and desires. But, if you need help, there are also several resources available. With this in mind, here is an overview of some key considerations for developing a parenting plan during your divorce:

Arizona’s Minimum Requirements for Post-Divorce Parenting Plans

We’ll start by covering Arizona’s minimum requirements for post-divorce parenting plans. These requirements appear in Section 25-403.02 of the Arizona Revised Statutes. Section 25-403.02 makes clear that all parenting plans must reflect the “best interests” of the children involved, and it states that parenting plan “shall include at least” the following:

  • Whether one parent will have sole legal decision-making authority or the parents will make decisions jointly;
  • Each parent’s rights and responsibilities to care for their children and make decisions regarding education, health care, and religious training;
  • A “practical schedule of parenting time for the child, including holidays and school vacations;”
  • Guidelines for transportation and for pickups and drop-offs when shifting between the parents’ homes;
  • Guidelines for resolving disputes and alleged breaches of the parents’ custody agreement, including whether mediation will be required;
  • Guidelines for periodically reviewing the parenting time plan;
  • Guidelines for communication between the parents, “including methods and frequency;” and,
  • “A statement that each party has read, understands, and will abide by the notification requirements of section 25-403.05, subsection B.”

Arizona’s Plan Guide and Sample Parenting Time Schedules

A useful resource for parents in Arizona who are contemplating a divorce is: Planning for Parenting Time – Arizona’s Guide for Parents Living Apart. This guide, which is published by the Arizona Courts, provides an overview of the basics of post-divorce parenting time, the importance of developing a parenting plan that works for everyone, and some key considerations for developing a post-divorce parenting plan.

It also includes 14 sample parenting time schedules. These sample schedules are intended to help divorcing parents understand the options they have available—they are not comprehensive, and parents are not required to choose between these options during the divorce process. As the Arizona Bar Foundation explains, “The plans provided are to act as a guide in developing a parenting time plan that best suits the needs of the child as well as the parents. They are recommendations, not required methods.”

The Arizona Courts’ guide describes each of the 14 sample schedules, and it provides recommendations for when each sample schedule may be appropriate based on a child’s age at the time of the parent’s divorce. It also discusses some advantages and disadvantages of each sample schedule—and these are well worth reading for parents who are trying to decide if any of the sample schedules might serve as a good foundation for their post-divorce parenting plan.

  • Sample Schedule #1: Primary custody with three 3-5 hour visitation periods during the week (birth through 24 months).
  • Sample Schedule #2: Primary custody with three 4-6 hour visitation periods during the week (birth through 24 months).
  • Sample Schedule #3: Primary custody with two 3-5 hour visitation periods and one 8-hour visitation period during the week (birth through five years).
  • Sample Schedule #4: Primary custody with two 3-6 hour visitation periods and one overnight each week (birth through five years).
  • Sample Schedule #5: Primary custody with one 3-6 hour visitation period and two non-consecutive overnights each week (birth through five years).
  • Sample Schedule #6: Equal parenting time with the child being away from either parent no more than two consecutive days (birth through five years).
  • Sample Schedule #7: Primary custody with one 3-6 hour visitation period and two consecutive overnights each week (two through five years).
  • Sample Schedule #8: Two days with one parent followed by three days with the other parent, repeating (two through five years).
  • Sample Schedule #9: Primary custody with two consecutive overnights every other week and an additional 3-6 hour period or overnight added each week (three through 18 years).
  • Sample Schedule #10: Three consecutive nights every other week and an additional 4-6 hour period each week (three through 18 years).
  • Sample Schedule #11: Four consecutive overnights one week and one overnight the next week, repeating (three through 18 years).
  • Sample Schedule #12: Split each week and weekend (three through 18 years).
  • Sample Schedule #13: Each parent has the same two consecutive weekday overnights and alternates weekends (three through 18 years).
  • Sample Schedule #14: Alternating seven-day periods, with an optional midweek overnight with the parent who doesn’t have parenting time that week (six through 18 years).

Developing a Parenting Plan that Works for You

Again, these are just examples—parents do not have to choose any of the sample schedules established by the Arizona Courts. Additionally, there is much more to developing a post-divorce parenting plan than simply establishing a weekly schedule. From vacations to emergencies, divorcing parents must address a variety of other situations as well, and taking a comprehensive and custom-tailored approach to developing a post-divorce parenting plan is essential for avoiding unnecessary confusion, stress, and conflicts in the future.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation with a Phoenix Divorce Lawyer at Weingart Family Law

If you are preparing to go through a divorce as a parent in Arizona and would like to know more about developing a parenting plan during the process, we invite you to get in touch. To schedule a free initial consultation with a Phoenix divorce lawyer at Weingart Family Law, please call 480-923-9063 or get in touch online today.