Modifications to Parenting Time in Arizona

Modifying or Changing a Current Parenting Time Order

Is your parenting plan no longer working? Do you think it's in your child's best interest to change the visitation schedule?

Many parents find that the Parenting Plan they have no longer works. Even parenting plans made with the best intentions can need modification. Circumstances change and those changes can negatively affect parenting time and add stress to both the parents and the children.

At Best Law Firm we continually work with parents who want to modify their current Parenting Time Orders. Reasons vary from parent to parent but the idea is the same. Their current Parenting Time Order is no longer working for their kids best interests and it needs to be changed. When considering modifying a current Parenting Time Order you must first and foremost consider what is in the best interests of your child.

There are many legitimate reasons to modify parenting time but disliking the other parent is not one of them. If the court finds that one parent tries to limit the other’s parenting time without good cause or out of spite, the petition to modify parenting time will be denied and the parent that requested the change will be ordered to pay the opposing parent’s attorney fees and costs.

Examples of Valid Reasons to Modify Parenting Time:

My child’s Father got a DUI last month. I want to change my current Parenting Time Order to prevent my child’s Father from having unsupervised visits with my son.

I want to change the current Parenting Time Order, because my ex-wife is not exercising her parenting time.

I was given limited parenting time when my children were born, however, my daughter is five years old and my son is seven years old now. I want to be able to spend more time with my children and become a more permanent figure in their life.

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How to Modify Parenting Time

Parenting time can be modified in two different ways:

Informal process outside of Court

Through Mediation

Through an Informal Settlement Meeting

Formal Petition with the Court

Private Mediation

Many times, Parenting Plans have a requirement that the parties attend Mediation prior to petitioning the Court for a change to the current Parenting Time Order. If your Parenting Plan requires you to attend Mediation and allows for Private Mediation, Best Law can assist you in these Mediation Services.

Settlement Meeting

If you and the other parent are able to come to agreements about the changes to your current parenting time, but you have questions about family law in Arizona or want help in drafting an agreement schedule, then you can contact Best Law and schedule an informal meeting with an attorney.

Petition to Modify

If you are unable to come to any agreement with the other parent regarding changes to the current Parenting Time Order, your other option is to file a formal petition with the Court, known as a Petition to Modify. This petition notifies the Court and the other parent that you want to change the current Parenting Time Order. Under Arizona law, a Court must find a material change in circumstances directly affecting the welfare of the child(ren) and that a modification is in the child(ren)’s best interests.

Arizona Parenting Time Law

The court shall not restrict a parent’s parenting time rights unless it finds that the parenting time would endanger seriously the child’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health.

The court shall assess attorney fees and costs against a party seeking modification if the court finds that the modification action is vexatious and constitutes harassment.

Does Your Parenting Plan Require Mediation?

Before you can seek help from the Court and file a Petition to Modify, you must determine whether you current Parenting Time Order has a “Mediation Clause.” This clause requires parties to go through mediation services to resolve their issues before they can seek help from the Court. This “Mediation Clause” can be found in your Parenting Plan. If you are wondering whether your Parenting Plan has a mediation clause, you can call us and we can review your current Parenting Plan with you.

If your Parenting Plan requires that you attend Mediation, you can file a Mediation Request with the Court. Some Parenting Plans will identify whether parties are required to go through Conciliation Services for mediation or whether they can seek private mediation services. We offer Mediation Services. If your parenting plan allows private mediation we can mediate the matter for you and the other parent. If you would like more information about Mediation give us a call or visit our Mediation Page.

Requirements to File Petition to Modify Parenting Time

Requirements:

  1. It must be at least one year (or longer) since the current Parenting Order was entered into (see exceptions below); and
  2. You must prove to the Court there has been a material change in circumstances directly affecting the welfare of the child. (This is where you tell the Court why you are asking for a change to the current parenting time order. What has changed since the last order was entered until now?)

Once the Court determines a material change in circumstances has occurred, the Court then looks at the Best Interest Factors of your child(ren) under A.R.S. 25-403.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I meet the necessary requirements to ask the Court for help in changing my current Parenting Time Order?

Before you can seek help from the Court and file a Petition to Modify, you must determine whether you current Parenting Time Order has a “Mediation Clause.” This clause requires parties to go through mediation services to resolve their issues before they can seek help from the Court. This “Mediation Clause” can be found in your Parenting Plan. If you are wondering whether your Parenting Plan has a mediation clause, call us Best Law and we can go over your current Parenting Plan with you.

What if my child is in danger? Or the other parent is not following the current Parenting Time Order?

There are two exceptions to the one-year requirement before being able to petition the court to change a current parenting time order.

If it has been less than 6 months and the other parent is not following the current parenting time order; AND/OR There is an emergency situation.

Once you meet these requirements, you may file a Petition with the Court to modify the current Parenting Time Order. The Court will make changes to the current Parenting Time Order as it relates to the Best Interest of the Minor Child. The Court looks at A.R.S. 25-403 when determining the factors.

If my Parenting Plan requires that I attend Mediation, what do I do?

If you Parenting Plan requires that you attend Mediation, you can file a Mediation Request with the Court. Some Parenting Plans will identify whether parties are required to go through Conciliation Services for mediation or whether they can seek private mediation services. Call Best Law if you need assistance setting up Mediation with the other parent.

What happens after I file a Petition to Modify?

First, the other party will need to be served with the Petition to Modify.

Once served, the other party has 20 days to Respond (or 30 if they reside out of town) to your Petition.

Once the other party has responded, the Court will set a Court date.

If my Parenting Plan DOES NOT require that I attend Mediation OR me and the other parent have already gone to Mediation, can I petition the Court?

If you have either already attended Mediation or your Parenting Plan does not require that you attend Mediation, you must meet two additional requirements before you can file a Petition with the Court.

It must be at least one year (or longer) since the current Parenting Order was entered into (see exceptions below); and

You must prove to the Court there has been a material change in circumstances directly affecting the welfare of the child. (This is where you tell the Court why you are asking for a change to the current parenting time order. What has changed since the last order was entered until now?)

What happens if the other party does not respond?

If the other party does not respond, call Best Law Firm to assist you with filing a default action. A default action is situation where one party is being non-responsive. The default action will notify the Court. Once a default has been filed with the Court, a hearing is set and the other party has ten (10) days to respond. If the other party does not respond within that time frame or does not appear at the Default Hearing, the Court will grant you the requests that were outlined in your Petition to Modify, so long as it is in the best interests of the minor child(ren).

Keep Best Law Firm in mind when thinking about modifying a current Parenting Time Order. Best Law Firm can assist you a variety of ways from filing a formal petition with the Court to an informal meeting with both parties. Best Law Firm is always here to assist you with any of your family law needs.

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