Parenting Arrangements for Children
Questions to ask when determining parenting arrangements
How will the major decisions affecting the children be made?
The issue of who makes the major decisions affecting the children falls into two categories – joint legal custody and sole legal custody. A court’s joint legal custody order gives equal decision-making rights to both you and your spouse. It presumes you will communicate with each other and together make the major decisions that affect your children. A court’s sole legal custody order may sometimes require both of you to first discuss major child-related decisions, but in the event disagreements exist, the final right to make these decisions lies with the sole custodial parent.
When will the children spend time with each parent?
Time Sharing schedules for the children – where they will live and how much time they will spend with each parent – can be relatively open-ended or highly structured. For example, a court’s time-sharing child access (visitation) order can range from a few hours on weekends with the non-residential parent to a schedule where the children spend 50 percent of the time with each parent, generally called joint physical or joint residential custody; or, it can specifically delineate the days and times of days children are to be with each parent.
If you and your spouse are communicating and cooperative, you may mutually change the schedule to reflect your children’s changing needs whenever you wish. Problems arise when ex-spouses do not communicate with each other and significant tensions exist between them. In this circumstance, life can be filled with stress for you and your children. Whatever the unpleasant feelings you and your spouse may sometimes have toward each other, it is far more preferable to put these differences aside when it comes to focusing on the children’s needs.
Under the Arizona child custody statute, the general standards that are considered in making parenting arrangements for children are:
- The age of the children
- The parenting abilities of each party
- The quality of each parent’s interactions with the children
- The parents’ parenting history
- The wishes of an older child
- The mental and physical health of the parents
- Which parent is more likely to support the other parent’s frequent and meaningful contact with the children