The Law Offices of Karen A. Schoenau

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Child Custody Variations

Child Custody Variations Lawyer Scottsdale, Arizona

Scottsdale and Phoenix Divorce Attorney Who Will Explain Your Custody Options

When divorced parents say that they have custody of their children, it can mean several different things. Arizona parents must decide about several different aspects of child decision making. These may include determining where a child lives and creating a schedule for access to the child, known as parenting time. Another aspect of child custody is whether both parents should make important decisions together on the child’s behalf or whether one parent is authorized to make such decisions alone. Parents who agree about these issues can develop their own arrangements and present them to the court for approval. Judges typically approve parent-proposed child custody arrangements if they find the plan to be in the child’s best interests. When parents cannot agree, or when the court does not approve a parenting plan, the best option is to work with a knowledgeable child custody lawyer who can help you develop an acceptable custody plan that works for you and your child.

At the Law Office of Karen A. Schoenau, our Scottsdale family law attorney helps clients select the best legal decision making arrangements for their children. We advise about the custody choices they will need to make and we explain the pros and cons of each option. Our goal is to ensure that the plan, often known as a “parenting plan,” works for the parents and meets the legal standard of the best interests of the child, which is the standard that the court will use to approve or deny the proposed arrangement.

Legal Decision Making in Arizona

Knowing the options available and identifying the decisions you need to make can be an advantage when developing parenting and legal decision making plans in Arizona. For example, the phrase “legal decision making” refers to the important decisions that parents must make during a child’s life. These decisions generally involve education, healthcare, and religious upbringing. The most common arrangement is for both parents to have an equal say in these matters and equal access to any related documents. Of course, emergencies involving a child are an exception to any agreed-upon decision-making arrangements. For instance, if you need to rush a sick child to the hospital, you may not have time to consult the other parent.

Legal custody agreements can be very detailed. They can specify the school, the religious institution, and the summer camp that the child will attend. They can also be general and include language that states simply that both parents have an equal role in legal decision-making. Whether the legal decision making agreement is specific or general often depends largely on the relationship of the parents. If the parents believe that they will be able to work together on matters involving the child’s upbringing, they may choose language that is more general. Parents who tend to disagree about these issues will probably be more comfortable with details that are explicitly spelled out. Scottsdale divorce attorney Karen Schoenau advises clients about establishing the type of legal decision making agreement – sole or shared — that is best for them and their children.

Arizona Parenting Time Agreements

Parenting time agreements, also known as physical custody agreements, can similarly be general or very detailed. Parenting time agreements can spell out where the child lives. They can also name the days and times that the child will be with the other parent. Sometimes known as visitation agreements, they can set a schedule for holidays, birthdays, summers, and school vacations. If the parents live far apart, parenting time agreements can name the parent who will pay for transportation. Like legal decision making plans, parenting time plans typically contain provisions for resolving disputes.

Some parents prefer or need a more flexible parenting time agreement. Whether the agreement is general or specific, it will establish either sole physical custody or joint physical custody. Parents who cannot agree about custody details are more likely to have sole custody assigned by the court, with parenting time awarded to the non-custodial parent. Parents who agree and present a parenting time plan to the court may be more likely to obtain joint physical custody.

Things to Know About Arizona Legal Decision Making and Parenting Plans

Parents hoping to develop effective legal decision making and visitation plans should be aware that they could receive joint legal decision making and sole physical custody with parenting time. It is also possible to obtain both joint physical custody and joint legal decision making. This does not mean, however, that a child lives with each parent for the same amount of time, although it is possible. It is very unusual for a parent to receive the opposite — sole legal decision making and joint physical custody.

Parents should also know that parenting plans and legal decision making plans could be modified if circumstances change. Working with an experienced Arizona family law attorney is crucial to understanding all of your legal and physical custody options.

Contact a Scottsdale Custody Attorney for Help with Arizona Parenting Plans and Legal Decision-Making

If you want to know more about your legal and physical custody options, call Scottsdale family law attorney Karen Schoenau today. You may also complete the online contact form.