ARIZONA PARENTING PLAN FORM IN DIVORCE
Parenting Plan Form for Couples Going Through Divorce
Couples who are going through an uncontested divorce with children have many issues to consider as they transition from a married couple to divorced co-parents. There are many resources to help parents considering divorce. In today’s post I want to highlight some of the resources available to parents and some suggestions from experts to help create a process that is least disruptive for children.
Because we have handled thousands of divorce cases at Arizona Statewide Paralegal, you can use our legal document preparation and case management services to streamline the filing process so that you can focus on creating the most positive environment possible for your children. We handle each step of the process in order to minimize your stress so you can focus on what is most important, the transition for your family.
By starting with a 30-minute interview in person or by phone, we can get your paperwork started. Each divorce is unique, even if the process is the same for an uncontested divorce. For some couples, divorce reduces the level of stress and conflict in the home. For others who did not argue in front of the children, divorce may come as a shock to the children. Parents may worry about the short and long-term effects of divorce.
“Now, however, most researchers would agree that most children have the necessary resilience to deal with their new circumstances and challenges and ultimately become well-adjusted adults. Internal protective factors such as temperament and coping skills as well as good parenting and a supportive environment help these children successfully cope with their new situation.” (Hopf, 2013)
PARENTING TIME FOR BOTH PARENTS
Arizona has some excellent resources for parents as they make decisions about parenting time, legal decision-making, and where children will live after the divorce. Planning for Parenting Time, Arizona Guide for Parents Living Apart is an excellent free resource for parents prepared by lawyers, social workers, and mental health professionals. When thinking about these issues, you can find some of these resources on-line. But I want to highlight some things to think about as you transition through the divorce process.
In Arizona, when there is joint legal decision making (fka custody), a written parenting plan is required. Arizona Revised Statutes 25-403.02 outlines what must be included in the parenting plan
“Parenting plans shall include at least the following:
1. A designation of the legal decision-making as joint or sole as defined in section 25-401.
2. Each parent’s rights and responsibilities for the personal care of the child and for decisions in areas such as education, health care and religious training.
3. A practical schedule of parenting time for the child, including holidays and school vacations.
4. A procedure for the exchanges of the child, including location and responsibility for transportation.
5. A procedure by which proposed changes, disputes and alleged breaches may be mediated or resolved, which may include the use of conciliation services or private counseling.
6. A procedure for periodic review of the plan’s terms by the parents.
7. A procedure for communicating with each other about the child, including methods and frequency.
8. A statement that each party has read, understands and will abide by the notification requirements of section 25-403.05, subsection B.
D. If the parents are unable to agree on any element to be included in a parenting plan, the court shall determine that element. The court may determine other factors that are necessary to promote and protect the emotional and physical health of the child.
E. Shared legal decision-making does not necessarily mean equal parenting time.”
Arizona courts, and the majority of websites devoted to helping parents and children through divorce, recommend developing parenting plans even if not required by state law. Good parenting plan forms will address as many issues as possible to minimize the potential for conflict between parents. Other ideas to consider for discussion between co-parents include the following:
- How will you ensure that each child has the opportunity to stay connected to each parent?
- How flexible are the work schedules of the co-parents and the child’s schedules?
- What child-care arrangements need to be made?
- How will communication occur between co-parents? By phone, e-mail, text? Discussing the preferred method of communication can help avoid misunderstandings and conflict.
- What are the guidelines for the other parent to stay in contact with the child? For example, setting a window of time for phone calls, unlimited phone call times, etc… while keeping in mind the best interests of the child and their particular temperament and needs.
- Is it possible to create similar schedules between both households so that the child has some consistency
- How can you create flexibility in the parenting time schedule for special events or celebrations?
- How will you handle grandparent visitation and communication?
- What happens if there is a delay or cancellation by one parent?
- Will you mutually allow for make-up time when there is a cancellation?
Beyond the logistics of parenting time and the parenting plan, Dr. Michael Ungar provided these recommendations for parents who are divorcing to minimize the negative impact on children and increase their resilience. (Psychology Today 2010)
• Tell the kids together about the divorce.
• Avoid any negative talk about the other parent, or about the marriage.
• Both parents need to take responsibility for the decision to divorce.
• Don’t give children too many details. Although children don’t need to know lots of details about the divorce, they need to know that they are still loved and how the divorce will affect them in the short run
• Open a dialogue with children by inviting them to ask questions. Be willing to come back later to let them ask questions after they’ve had some time to think about things.
• If possible, keep the child in the same home, school, and neighborhood. Because children don’t have a choice in divorce, maintaining connections with friends and school can provide needed support during the divorce.
• Do what you can as parents to ensure the child’s standard of living doesn’t go down. This is one of the biggest things children say causes stress after their parents divorce.
• Be together (at least in the same place) when your child needs you both. School concerts and graduations shouldn’t require the child to choose which parent he or she invites. Nor should the child feel awkward about having you both attend a meeting with his or her principal or teacher.
REQUIRED PARENT EDUCATION PROGRAM
In addition to the required parenting plan, Arizona law also requires that divorcing parents go through a parent education program about the impact of divorce on adults and children. According to Arizona Revised Statutes 25-351, the superior court must adopt and implement an educational program for the purpose of educating persons about the impact of divorce on adults and children.
“Beginning January 1, 2013, these standards shall require that educational programs at a minimum include instruction related to all of the following:
1. The emotional, psychological, financial, physical and other short-term and long-term effects of divorce on adults and children.
2. Options available as alternatives to divorce.
3. Resources available to improve or strengthen marriage.
4. The legal process of divorce and options available for mediation.
5. Resources available after divorce.”
As part of our services we make prepare the following documents for an uncontested divorce:
- Civil Cover Sheet
- Preliminary Injunction
- Petition for Dissolution
- Affidavit Regarding Minor Children
- Confidential Information Sheet
- Notice to Creditors
- Notice of Right to Convert Health Insurance
- Order to Complete Parenting Class Decree of Dissolution
- Rule 44 Motion (if necessary)
- Joint Parenting Plan (if necessary)
- Parent’s Worksheet for child support
- Child Support Order
- Order of Assignment
- Fact Sheet
As you see we offer comprehensive legal document preparation services and case management for your uncontested divorce process. There is no need to worry about deadlines and properly completing the forms. We know what to ask and provide this service to hundreds of clients each year. Contact Us to get started today.