It is well known that children do better in school, have better health, and develop stronger social skills when both parents are involved in their life. For the better part of the past decade, Arizona courts have worked hard to ensure that both parents have the opportunity to remain actively involved in their children’s lives after divorce. This past fall, the National Parents Organization recognized Arizona for these efforts.
Arizona Gets an “A” from National Parents Organization
Arizona and Kentucky were the only two states to receive an “A” grade from the NPO’s evaluation. Seven states and DC received “B’s, while 25 states were given “C’s,” 15 received “D’s, and New York and Rhode Island both received “F’s.”
Arizona received praise for statutes that encourage shared parenting, and statutes that require the courts to adopt parenting plans that make it possible for both parents to maximize their parenting time with the child while preserving both parent’s rights to share in legal decision making authority.
The state also received accolades for endorsing “friendly parenting,” and for the state’s efforts to sanction parents for knowingly making false allegations of abuse.
As can be expected, the report indicated some areas where improvement is needed. Among these, statutes have no explicit provisions for shared parenting while temporary orders are in effect. Another point made in the survey was that the state does not require the courts to provide a complete list of reasons for denying a shared parenting plan.
The Importance of Joint Physical Custody
Joint physical custody allows children to live in both households, which makes it possible to maintain and strengthen relationships with both parents. As the child grows, this helps minimize conflicts and feelings of rejection that can negatively impact the child’s development.
It also helps minimize feelings of resentment and inferiority that can lead to long-term psychological trauma. With both parents involved, children are less likely to act out, suffer from low self-esteem, and develop unhealthy attitudes about family members, education, relationships, etc.
The Challenges of Joint Physical Custody in Arizona
While the advantages are clear, many parents fear the challenges that come with joint physical custody of a child. There is the constant moving from one house to the next on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. In highly contentious divorces, it means that bitter feelings and arguments can pop up at any time with an ex-spouse. It also means that there may be times when one parent may attempt to evade their responsibilities and “skip” their allotted time with the child.
However, with every challenge, there is always a solution that can make a mountain a molehill. Parents should never make a child choose between them or the other parent. Parents should never put a child in the middle of any disagreement with a former spouse, and they should never disparage the other parent lest the child hears these comments and it influences their feelings towards their mom or dad. Open, honest communication with an ex-spouse goes a long way towards establishing trust and maintaining the peace. Parents who remember these pointers, along with the many other responsibilities of parenthood, will find that joint physical custody is much easier, much more effective, and much less stressful than the alternatives.