What Types of Parenting Time Arrangements Can We Make?

Arizona uses the term “parenting time” rather than “visitation” or “custody.” This refers to the time that a parent physically has his or her children in their care. This is a different designation than legal decision-making authority, which is the right to make important decisions regarding your children. Here are some options for parenting time arrangements:

Who Decides Parenting Time Arrangements?

Parenting time arrangements can be decided by the parents by agreement or ordered by the court. If the parents do not reach a decision, one of them can petition the Superior Court to decide this for them. If the court makes the decision, the judge is guided by the principle of what is in the best interests of the child.

Arrangements Based on Age

Parenting time arrangements may change as the child ages. For example, some potential arrangements based on a child’s age may include:

  • Visits for several hours during a day for infants but no overnights away from the child’s primary caregiver
  • Several hours for multiple days during a week for younger children
  • Visits every other weekend and a visit during each week for several hours

It should be noted that, with increasing frequency, Courts are finding that as-equal-as-possible parenting plans are appropriate even for the youngest children.

Other Arrangements

There is no limit as to other possible parenting time arrangements. The parties may have an equal time arrangement, where they each have the children half the time. The children may alternate weeks or follow a rotation of specific days with the parents. The parents may create a customized arrangement based on their own work schedules and the needs of their child.

As long as the arrangement is in the best interests of the child, the court often approves such customized agreements.

Court Considerations

Whenever the Court approves an agreement or has to make its own determination of an appropriate parenting plan, it considers the following factors:

  • The preferences of the parties
  • The child’s preferences
  • The interaction between the child and each parent
  • The relationship between the child, siblings, and extended family
  • The health of the parties and child
  • The child’s adjustment to his or her home, educational environment, and social life
  • Which parent has been the primary caregiver for the child and what the parents’ future caregiving opportunities look like
  • Which parent is more likely to encourage ongoing and important contact with the other parent
  • Whether there is a history of domestic violence in the home
  • Whether either parent abuses alcohol or drugs

Contact a Family Law Attorney

If you would like assistance in developing a parenting time agreement, contact an experienced Arizona family law attorney. The attorneys at Udall Shumway can explain possible arrangements and how you may be able to form an agreement with the other parent. They can also discuss the options if you and the other parent are not able to reach an amicable agreement.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Parenting Time Arrangements, or other family law issues, please feel free to contact Barry C. Dickerson at 480.461.5300, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools, and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.