It can be challenging anytime a couple splits up. It’s considerably more complicated when a couple has kids, however, because you need to figure out a way to divide your custody rights and parenting time — and that’s never easy.
Ultimately, either you and your spouse will eventually craft a parenting agreement that reflects your family’s unique needs or let a judge decide how your parenting plan will operate. As you move forward, it helps to understand as much as you can about how custody actually works.
Understanding the difference between physical and legal custody
In Arizona, custody is divided into two parts: Physical and legal. Physical custody determines where the child lives at any given point. Legal custody has to do with which parent can lawfully make decisions about a child’s health care, education or religion.
Both physical and legal custody can be granted solely to one parent or divided between the parents in some way. Most of the time, however, both parents will be awarded some form of joint custody because the court wants both parents to remain active and involved in their children’s lives.
Factors parents must take into account when deciding on parenting time
When working on a plan to share parenting time, you need to keep in mind your child’s developmental stage. For example, infants and toddlers often benefit from regular interaction with their parents. They also generally need more of your focused attention when they’re with you. On the other hand, older children may benefit from following consistent routines. They may also be more engaged with their community, making it necessary for them to spend a significant portion of the week in a single location.
You must also take into account your needs as a parent when arranging a parenting schedule. The schedule you create must be one that you’re sure you can consistently follow, whether it allows you to see your kids during the week or primarily on the weekends. You will also need to sort out how you’ll handle school breaks, vacations, holidays, birthdays and extracurricular activities.
Where to find help in devising a parenting plan
Working out a parenting plan and deciding how to best share your time with the kids isn’t easy if you’re inexperienced with the process. Misinformation abounds. An experienced attorney can help you find the solutions your family needs.