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When couples with children decide to divorce, there is no issue of greater importance than child custody-related matters. Unfortunately, many couples who share children together are often unable to reach amicable agreements regarding custody of their kids. When that happens, family courts are often left to determine child custody matters based on a set of guidelines.

These guidelines are intended to split parental responsibilities between both spouses while also placing the child’s best interests first. Arizona has long recognized that children benefit from the direct involvement of both parents. For that reason, family courts go to great lengths to ensure that parents who are fit and interested in maintaining an ongoing relationship with their children are not completely excluded from participating in their children’s development.

The courts also realize that not every parent fits a traditional mold. For example, some parents have jobs that require them to work at night and sleep during the day. Other parents may have to travel extensively as part of their job requirements or military service. The Arizona parenting plan guidelines are an attempt to allow each parent a fair amount of interaction with his or her children regardless of unusual circumstances. The following are some examples of the guidelines:

— A parent’s failure to timely pay child support does not automatically disqualify him or her from access to his or her children.

— Both parents are allowed to have equal access to all of the children’s school records. This guideline applies whether the records are obtained directly from the school or from the other parent.

— Parents are not entitled to discuss their marital problems with their children regarding the other spouse.

If you are currently seeking to modify your child custody order, there are a few things you should know. Family law courts often review other information in addition to using the guidelines when making their child custody determinations. Your Arizona family law attorney can advise you on the best ways to comply with the guidelines in order to obtain a favorable child custody result.

Source: Superior Court of Arizona and Maricopa County, “Parenting time guidelines” accessed Jan. 28, 2015

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