Parents of underage children in Arizona who want to separate or divorce are generally required to adhere to the terms of a parenting plan designed to help them take care of their children. When people talk about parenting plans or custody orders, their biggest focus is often on the breakdown of parenting time.

How parents divide time with their children is absolutely an important consideration, but that is only the most basic element of an Arizona parenting plan. Parents need to address far more than that if they hope to share responsibility for their children without constantly having conflicts with one another.

1. How they will celebrate holidays and birthdays

Perhaps the family has special traditions, such as going to visit both sets of grandparents every Christmas. Maybe there is always a special meal when it is someone’s birthday. Parents need to think about how to uphold traditions that are important to their children for special days while also fairly sharing that time with the children.

From discussions of how parents will divide holiday parenting time to rules about how much they spend on gifts and how they communicate about presents, rules for the holidays can potentially set the family up for less conflict during special days in the future.

2. How they will discipline the children

Parents will have an easier time maintaining control over the family when they continue to work together on all major parenting concerns. Having rules in place before a child gets sent home from school for behavioral issues will benefit the whole family.

Addressing academic expectations and disciplinary procedures in a parenting plan can keep everything consistent between households and minimize the risk of conflict between parents who might disagree about what discipline is appropriate.

3. How they will handle disagreements

While most aspects of a parenting plan will focus directly on the children and their lives, the parents also need to consider the relationship that they have with one another and how it may impact the children.

The more they fight with each other in front of the children, the harder it will be for the whole family. Having rules and procedures in place for negotiating conflict, such as attending co-parenting therapy or communicating in writing, will help the whole family handle the stressful transition to parenting between two households more gracefully.

Including thoughtful details in an Arizona parenting plan will very likely help those transitioning to shared parental responsibilities handle the new scenario with less stress.

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