Divorce is always difficult, but when there are children involved, it can become more adversarial. It is important to remember that in Arizona, the courts will make decisions that are in the best interest of the child, even though those interests may not be in your best interest or in the other parent’s best interest. For that reason, it is critical to create a good parenting plan that allows both parents to spend time with the children without animosity.
Keep the child in mind at all times
Family court judges are not the only ones who need to put a child’s best interest first. You and the other parent must, at all times, consider what is best for your children when making any decision. Under family law, courts will try to allow both parents equal time with the children unless there is evidence of abuse or neglect. Not only do your child’s physical needs have to be met, but their emotional needs are important as well.
Create a schedule that works for all
“Every other weekend” requirements were commonly issued by courts in the past, but today, you can create a pick-up and drop-off schedule in any manner you choose. Try to be as flexible as possible, remembering that even the children will have activities and responsibilities that might require a change to the schedule. As your child gets older, the schedule may have to be adjusted.
Keep the lines of communication open
Create a method of communication that will keep the lines open yet allow each parent to have autonomy over the children. It is not a good communication plan if you call your ex six times a day while the children are with them to see how the kids are doing. There are apps that allow you to communicate without actually speaking to each other if there is tension.
Talk about your child’s finances
Finances are one of the biggest issues between divorced couples. Family law requires that children be supported adequately, which means one parent may have to pay support to another. Both parents should have an honest conversation about finances. The parent who is receiving support should keep a good accounting of how the support is spent for the child, and the parent who is paying support should not use it as a weapon against the other parent. Also, it’s important to discuss who will cover costs not commonly included in support, such as braces, extra-curricular activities and more.
Before entering a parenting plan, it is important to discuss your rights with an attorney. A family law attorney can guide you through the process.