When parents live apart, issues involving children can be extremely challenging. Providing a stable home life at the end of the parents’ relationship is everyone’s primary concern.
Many parents are left to question how decisions will be made regarding their child’s health care and school, how they will set up a workable parenting time schedule, and how they will effectively communicate with the other parent. McMurdie Law Office and WHYmediate Mediation Services will help find answers to all these questions and many more.
The term custody in Arizona, now referred to as “Legal Decision Making,” has been grossly misunderstood and misused. Child custody in Arizona is divided in two different areas that used to be divided and defined as “legal custody” and “physical custody.” Now, they are referred to as “Legal Decision Making” and “Parenting Time.”
Legal Decision Making consists of 4 primary areas of major decisions for the children that include 1) health care; 2) religion; 3) schooling; 4) activities. If these are agreed between you, then you already have an agreement that the court does not need to be involved in solving for you. However, if one parent is making decisions for the children that are not in their best interest, the court may need to be involved to ensure the children are protected in the best way possible.Disagreements between the parents regarding these decisions are often resolved through mediation or through use of a third person, referred to as a Parenting Coordinator, who will investigate the dispute and issue a recommendation to the court to resolve the disagreement between the parents.
At McMurdie Law Office and WHYmediate Mediation Services we can often help you with these decisions through mediation and keep you from having to place these personal decisions in the hands of the court or Parenting Coordinator. When the court is needed in your case, we can go to court with you through full representation, or help you with advice, counsel and guidance to represent yourself. We have found that many clients find this limited scope representation helpful and affordable.
Parenting Time, previously referred to as visitation, pertains to the parenting time schedule the parents share with their child. A parenting time schedule may vary considerably from case to case based upon a myriad of factors and can be the most difficult aspect for a separating family. Visitation is now reserved for grandparents and third parties, like step-parents or extended relatives. Even if one parent has far less time than the other parent, it is still described as Parenting Time.
Parenting time is decided by many factors, including but not limited to the following:
- Ages of the children
- Wishes of the children
- Best interests of the children
- Where the children attend school
- Mental and physical health of the parents
- Mental and physical health of the children
- Whether a parent is attempting to alienate the other
- Whether there is a history of domestic violence, criminal activity, or alcohol or substance abuse.
In some cases a behavioral or mental health professional may be brought in to perform an assessment of your family including both parents and sometimes the children, which the court will later review to assist in making their decision.
McMurdie Law Office and WHYmediate Mediation Services can help the parties in a custody case to navigate to an amicable resolution that provides a stable schedule for the children and helps to cultivate a healthy level of communication between the parties that can continue into the future. Contact McMurdie Law Office to find out how we can help your family work together to create parenting plan in your custody matter.
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