When you separate or get a divorce in Arizona, each parent is granted the right to parenting time. This means that you have the right to be with your child. Parenting time is not related to child custody though, which is about making decisions for the child.

It is rather related to physical custody. The law in Arizona takes a favorable view in involving both the mother and father in raising the child. In general, the amount of parenting time is part of the separation or divorce court orders.

The foundation for all of the interactions is whether the conditions are in the best interest of the child. Having the parents come to an agreement to present a united front is usually better for everyone involved than having arrangements mandated by the court.

Hiring a family law attorney can prove to be extremely beneficial in these circumstances. Often times, the biggest factor in determining parenting time is the relationship between the mother and father. What needs to be understood is that you need to do what is best for your child, if you are unable to resolve this issue yourself, give us a call at (480) 467-4348 and our skilled family law team will assist you in this process.


How Much Time Am I Entitled To?

The amount of time for each parent depends on a number of factors, such as the age of the child, how involved the parent was in the child’s life, the circumstances of each parent’s home and the wishes of the child. In some circumstances no time is granted but this would be unusual; in such a case it would be deemed as harmful for the child to spend time with that parent.

By examining different situations, these circumstances can be explained more fully.

 

Shared or Equal Parenting Time

In the negotiations for your divorce, both parties can agree to an even split for the parenting time. Practically, there are many variations as to what this means.

Sometimes, the child stays with the mother throughout the week to attend school and visits the father on the weekends, in the evenings or during the school holidays. At other times, if the child, mother and father live close to the school, then the child can spend half the week living with one parent and the other half, with the other parent. It is likely that if the time has been split equally, the parents will communicate with each other for the best interests and variations to the schedule. If discrepancies happen then either parent can initiate going back to court to review the current situation.

 

Limited Parenting Time

If the child is very young, the court may set up most of the time for the parent with the most stable environment or the parent who has been the primary care giver. Often that is the mother. The other parent will receive some parenting time and this will likely increase as the child matures.

 

No Parenting Time

Sometimes, one parent may have an addiction issue or may have abused someone in the family or may be living in very unstable conditions. How will the judge know that the living conditions are unstable? A social agency will be tasked with an investigation and to report back to the court.

The court has the right to issue an order that this parent must not be able to see the child. But as the situation evolves, changes can be made.

 

Supervised Parenting Time

In some instances, there may be questionable behavior on the part of one parent. The court can be advised of these transgressions and supervised visitation will be set up. The parent is allowed to see the child but must be accompanied by a third party who works for a social agency.


Involving the Child in Parenting Time

At some point, when the child is ready, he or she may voice a preference for how the parenting time evolves. Or as part of the initial proceedings, he or she will voice his or her opinion. The judge will take these wishes under consideration. This consultation starts to occur once the child reaches the age of 12.  This could change the amount of time spent with both parents.


Determining Parenting Time with an Unmarried Parent

In Arizona when a baby is born out of wedlock, the mother is presumed to have both physical and legal custody of the child as long as it is in the best interests of the child. She may put the child up for adoption, refuse visitations from the father or remove the child from the father. Once paternity is established, then the father can start arrangements for parenting time.

To look more in to father’s parenting rights, click here.

To look more in to custodial interference and ARS 13-1302 which goes more in depth with children born out of wedlock, click here.


Who Initiates Parenting Time?

The decision is a responsibility of the court and as part of the process of divorce. Both parents need to either agree to the conditions or make their case why the time should not be equally shared. The situation can be revisited as life circumstances change. But since parenting time is ordered by the court, the changes will only happen through returning to court and having the changes documented there.


Enforcing Parenting Time

If there is a violation of parenting time, the parent can take a verified complaint back to the court. At the end of the hearing, the offending parent can be judged as in contempt of the court, parenting time can be adjusted to make up for the difference or the parents can be ordered into mediation to work out the situation with a third party. The court can assign a parenting coordinator as an on ongoing mediator when the parents are in constant disagreement.

Read more about JackonWhite’s mediation services.


Rights to Information About the Child

In general, both parents have rights to access school records, health records and other information as long as both have been deemed to act in the best interest of the child. If the situation has been documented as otherwise, a parent can initiate a court order to limit the information to the offending parent.


Statistics of Parenting Time in Arizona

Although no statistics are kept for judgement in Arizona for custody cases, statistics from other states show that joint (evenly split) custody is on the rise. Moreover, the oral reports from the lawyers in Arizona seem to verify this fact. In other states, the minimum time ranges from 25% to 35%, but some of the other states have set a minimum time of 40% for each parent.

So, it seems that there is a growing recognition of the importance of both parents in a child’s life.