Modification of Family Law Orders in Arizona

Modification of Family Law Orders

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Modification of Family Law Orders

The goal is to utilize the Court system only when necessary and hopefully only one time. However, circumstances change and sometimes the parenting plan or spousal maintenance amount the parties originally agreed to or the Court ordered no longer works. Or perhaps the Court ordered something that hasn’t worked from the get-go, and you believe it is time to involve the Court again.  

Family rulings are unique from rulings in almost any other area of law because they can be modified. This is because of the unique situation in which a family court operates—the needs and circumstances of the parties change over time, so the Court can change its orders over time. 

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Modification of Child Custody in Arizona

Have Questions? We have answers

Modifications in Arizona FAQs

How long do I have to pay child support for?

You must pay child support until your child is 18 and graduated from high school or until they turn 19 years old.

What should I be doing to prepare for a modification?

The answer depends a little bit on your circumstances, but generally speaking, you should be keeping a timeline of events that have occurred and any evidence you might have to support it. If for instance, the other parent sends you a nasty text message, you should have a place where you write down the date and what was said, and then print out the text message and save it with the other evidence you have.  

If the Court ordered you to do certain things, such as attend counseling or complete a parenting class, make sure you do that and keep a record of it. The items the Court requires of you are not only mandatory, but i the judge is signaling to you what changes the judge wants to see before increasing your access to the child. You may not agree with the judge, but we recommend you follow what the judge has required of you to increase your chances for a better result next time around.  

For spousal maintenance and child support, keeping your financial records so that you are ready to go on discovery and disclosure is important and can save you a lot of time and money when you are ready to modify.  

What do the Arizona courts try to achieve in a custody case?

In an ideal world, judges are trying to create a situation where both parents are equally involved, and the child is safe, loved, provided for, and cared for. The parents communicate well with each other and both are involved in the child’s education and attend the child’s medical appointments, school events, and extracurricular activities without any drama whatsoever. That would be the ideal, but most cases are going to fall short of that—and many will not come anywhere close to that. In those situations, the child’s safety must be tended to first, but after that, the court and others have developed programs to help parents communicated better, coparent better, and keep the focus on what is best for the child. Attorneys are aware of these programs and can talk to you about what solutions might fit your situation. 

For child custody, is Arizona a “Mother’s state”?

No. Arizona is a gender-neutral state, meaning it does not favor one parent over the other because of gender.

The other parent refuses to follow the Parenting Plan. What can I do?

You have a few options: The first option is to enforce the Parenting Plan by filing a Petition to Enforce. A Parenting Plan is a Court order, and the Court can enforce its order. It can do so by imposing penalties on the offending parent or requiring them to attend certain classes or counseling to help them learn how to co-parent. Another option may be to modify the Parenting Plan. Depending on the infraction, the Court could make small adjustments to the plan, put conditions on the parent’s time with the child or adjust parenting time and legal decision-making altogether. 

Why did Arizona change what “child custody” means?

In 2012, the Legislature changed the meaning of the termcustody because they were concerned too many people fighting for custody did not understand what they were fighting for. There was a feeling that some people pursued “custody” simply because it was what a parent is supposed to do. The Legislature thought if they made the terms more descriptive of the rights being pursued, parents could make an informed decision of whether it was something they wanted to pursue in Court. The Legislature hoped the change might lessen conflicts and litigation.  

Can the other parent and I agree to change our Parenting Plan?

Yes, you can. You two are still the parents. Except in cases involving third parties, whenever the parents agree, the Courts encourage. Most judges would rather the parents decide what is best for their child than leave it up to the judge. The Parenting Plan is a fallback provision to what you will do when the two of you cannot reach an agreement. If you would like your Agreement to become the new Parenting Plan, you can complete an updated Parenting Plan, have both parents sign it, and submit it to the Court. 

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