Guidelines for Parenting Time Plans
The courts may start with basic guidelines for parenting time, depending on the age of the child. For infants up to 6 months old, basic access includes brief but frequent visits during the week, with a recommended two hour visit, three times a week, later adding another four hour visit during the weekend. In Pima County, the Courts tend to get as close to 50/50 time sharing of children even at the youngest ages.
While in the past for children up to three-years-old, basic access may include a Saturday, increasing to alternate weekends, and a mid-week visit, now the courts often grant a 5-2-2-5 parenting time schedule. Under this plan, the children are with one parent for Monday and Tuesday, with the other parent Wednesday and Thursday, and then alternate weekends. In this way, the child is not away from either parent for more than 5 days at a time. However, as children enter junior high school and beyond, increased consideration should be given to the child's activities, and a more flexible parenting time schedule is recommended, oftentimes moving to a week on/week off schedule between parents.
Vacation time can be difficult to balance with parenting time plans. The court does not recommend keeping a child under the age of three away from the primary parent for more than a week at a time. After that, it is not recommended they are deprived of contact with the parent for more than two consecutive weeks. For children over the age of 6, vacation access may be extended up to 10 weeks, but should generally be in the range of two to four weeks long. Each parent should be afforded two weeks of uninterrupted out-of-town travel, with the other parent allowed equal access parenting time.
In cases of long-distance parenting access, parenting time plans may be more complicated. For school-age children, access during the summer is recommended, from four to 10 weeks, with consideration of the child's other activities. Additional access is recommended during the school year, especially during extended weekends.
Violating Parenting Time Orders
Violating court orders regarding parenting time and custody can result in criminal charges, or a modification of parenting time for the parent in violation. This may occur when one parent does not drop off the child at the predetermined time and place, or if the parent makes the child unavailable by going out of town.
Self-help remedies are not recommended when there are disputes between the parents. If the parents want to make any changes to custodial orders, they should go through the official legal channels to avoid contempt of court orders or criminal charges.
Making Changes to Court Custody Orders
Of course, parenting time may change over time as the child grows up and their individual needs change and evolve. Orders for decision-making and parenting time may be modified by the court based on the best interests of the child.