Modification of a Custody Order

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Modification of a Legal Decision Making (Custody) or Parenting Time Order

 

Parenting plans should be reviewed periodically for example, when a very young child reaches school age or when one parent no longer exercises their parenting time.

Who Can Seek a Modification?

First, there must be an existing order by the court that established the current custody arrangement and parenting plan.  The following are a couple of common misunderstandings

  •  Informal agreements between parents or through Child Protective Services do not have the legally binding effect of a court order.
  • An order for child support only for example, one established by the Office of Child Support Enforcement- is not a custody order.

 

HOWEVER: If you and the other parent reach an agreement, file it with the court, and if its approved you can easily and simply modify your plan.

A party must file the modification with the Clerk of the Court and send it to the other parent. The person seeking a modification should include detailed facts  to support the request.  The person must  specify if the request is to alter joint or sole custody or to change or clarify the parenting time arrangement.

Timing of the Request

Generally, a custody order must have been in effect for at least one year before a party may attempt to modify the order.  However, there are exceptions to this general rule.  An order may be modified earlier than one year after the order if a party:

  • Committed significant domestic violence
  • Failed to comply with the custody order (must still wait at least six months after the order)
  • Was convicted of a dangerous crime against children such as,
    • Child molestation or Domestic violence where the victim was a child.

 

The Legal Standard for the Court To Consider

The court must determine if the modification is in the best interest of the child.  A court cannot restrict parenting time unless it finds the child’s physical, mental, moral, or emotional health is seriously endangered. For more information on the factors a court must consider  Refer to A.R.S.§25-403.

How Can We Help?


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