A Parenting Plan
A Parenting Plan is a detailed plan that outlines a parenting time schedule, communication procedures, exchange procedures, how changes and violations of the plan will be resolved, a schedule to review the plan. It also details each parent’s rights and responsibilities for the personal care of the child and for decisions in areas such as education, health care and religious training.
Under A.R.S. 25-403.02, every parenting plan needs:
- Designation of legal decision-making as either joint or sole
- Each parent’s rights and responsibilities for the personal care of the child and for decisions in areas such as education, health care and religion
- A practical schedule of parenting time for the child, including holidays and school vacations
- A procedure for the exchanges of the child, including location and responsibility for transportation
- A procedure by which proposed changes, disputes and alleged breaches may be mediated or resolved, which may include the use of conciliation services or private counseling
- A procedure for periodic review of the plan’s terms by the parents
- A procedure for communicating with each other about the child, including methods and frequency.
A Tiebreaker Provision
A tiebreaker provision is a section of your parenting plan agreement that determines which parent gets to make the final decision about an issue when the parents cannot agree. This type of provision can help avoid costly litigation and fighting over the children.
For instance, you could mediate all ties, before going back to court. Your “mediator” in this situation can be anyone you choose; an attorney, pastor, grandparent, social worker, counselor, psychologist or anyone else who can help you. You could decide that one parent can break the tie in two matters and the other parent breaks the tie in the other two areas. You could attempt to negotiate as many of these issues during the divorce as you can anticipate. If you know your child will need braces, plan for it now and negotiate it now, before anger or other future partners muddy up the water. Let’s say that you know your child will play soccer and it will be played on Saturdays. Saturdays are both mom’s and dad’s parenting time on every other weekend. You can write into your agreement that sports that fall on the non-visiting parent’s parenting time can be made up by agreement of the parties. Soccer that falls on both parents time alternately, when the parents have 50-50 parenting time may not be a reason to keep the child out of sports and there will be no make-up time. If you know that one grandparent always takes the kids to the lake in the summer for a week, write that into the agreement now. But do not put your child in the middle. We repeat: do not put your child in the middle.