Starting January 1, 2013, the state of Arizona is changing the terms of divorce—and that’s a good thing.
Traditionally, one parent (usually the mom) has “physical custody” while the other (usually the dad) has “visitation.” Those phrases have long bothered a lot of people– especially “non-custodial” parents, who feel that those words minimize their importance in their children’s lives. “Custody” and “visitation” have now been replaced with “parenting time,” a far less polarizing phrase.
Another phrase that’s on its way out is “joint legal custody”—to be replaced by “legal decision makers.” That, say proponents of the new terms, opens up some interesting possibilities for parents to divide up decision making so that one, for example, might have authority to decide on education, while the other could make after-school and vacation plans.
But one thing new terminology won’t change is the need for both parents to support each other, to not badmouth each other, and to stay focused on what’s truly in the best interests of their children.