He wanted me to share this information. He believes that the State of Arizona is being unfair to him, a father who will not have residential custody of the child, by only allowing him to see the child one day each week.
I was able to find the document that he showed me, along with all the other pages. Here it is. I must disclose that I am not an attorney, and nothing that follows constitutes legal advice. Here's the result of my admittedly brief research.
Arizona has, indeed, adopted a process by which a parenting plan must be agreed to at the time of a divorce. ARS 25-403.02 is the applicable statute. That statute does not stipulate what the parenting plan must be. The Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County established Parenting Plan Guidelines in order to help parents who are divorcing to establish a plan that is in the best interest of children. It is not about legal custody, child support, who is right or who is wrong. It has to do with children. As I understand it, in many divorces involving children, residential custody is established by the court. That means that the child lives primarily with one parent, and the other is awarded visitation rights. As an aside, I also learned that even joint custody does not mean that visitation is necessarily 50/50.
The parenting plan is a road map to which both parents must agree at the outset, as part of the legal proceeding. Children should never be an afterthought, and the relationship between divorcing parents and children should not be a matter of contention after the fact. Hence, the plan. When the split is not an amicable one, the residential custodial parent might make it difficult for the other parent to see the child if there was no legally adopted plan. The Parenting Plan Guidelines offer suggestions, by age group, for at least the most basic visitation rights that will be recognized as reasonable by the courts, absent extenuating circumstances. If the parents can agree, more visitation may be arranged. In every case, however, the court will always consider the child first.
In this case, it seems that this couple isn't agreeing on much, so basic visitation may be all the father gets. I am led to understand that with a child this young, infant development justifies that the parent with visitation just doesn't get much time -- enough to develop a bond, but not enough to confuse the child. In this case, it just isn't as much time as he'd like.
So, although I wanted to get back to my sushi, I knew that this young man was hurting and feeling betrayed by Arizona. There's not much I can write that is encouraging. I have not been able to determine if Arizona law is more stringent in this regard than other states, or if other counties in Arizona have the same parenting plan guidelines.
I only spoke to him for a few minutes, but he seemed like he'll be a great Dad. I hope it works out for him and for his child.
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