A divorce is seldom a straightforward procedure, even when the circumstances seem simple. For couples with one or more children, however, a divorce settlement can become quite complicated. Children are not an asset to be divided 50-50 or given to one partner or the other. They are a life-long responsibility for both parents and their best interests are a priority.
There are a wide variety of arrangements to make concerning the well-being of children after a divorce. Among them are:
- Deciding which parent gets primary custody
- Arranging visitation
- Setting a vacation schedule
- Making child support payments
Decisions like these can either be made in a collaborative manner, or a judge in a court of law can have the final say if an agreement cannot be reached.
Going to trial with children
If you or your partner decide a trial is necessary to settle a disagreement you're having concerning your children, proper preparations must be made before going to court. These include:
- Completing disclosure and discovery requirements
- Completing the joint pre-trial statement
- Preparing your exhibits
- Submitting your proposed findings of fact
- Attending a Parent Information Program
- Notifying the court if a settlement is reached
What is a Parent Information Program?
According to Arizona state law, all parents involved in a divorce that goes to trial will be required to complete a Parent Information Program. The program costs a maximum of $50 and may be completed in one of several locations in Maricopa County or online.
Upon finishing the program, a copy of your Certificate of Completion will be filed electronically at the office of the Maricopa County Clerk of the Court. The court will be able to access your certificate within five to seven business days.
Making good decisions now will positively impact the future
All of this is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to a divorce involving children. And though there may be tough decisions to make and difficult situations to endure, how you handle yourself and your divorce now may impact your relationship with your children down the road.
For most people, this is not a situation to go into unaware and unaided. In order to be best prepared for a trial, it may be wise to discuss your particular situation with an attorney. An experienced representative who is thoroughly familiar with divorce law in Arizona as it applies to children will be able to steer you through the legal maze and help you arrive at the best settlement for you and your children.