Once you have an order in place regarding parental decision making and parenting time, you may expect everything to continue as normal. Then, one day, everything changes. You lose your job or your ex loses their job. Or another crisis emerges that requires you to change your parenting and/or child support order.
Your parenting order can be changed if your child is endangered
Under Arizona law, your parenting order is considered settled for a full year. However, you can ask the court to modify your order after six months if your kids’ other parent fails to follow the order.
You can ask the court for a change at any time if you, in good faith, believe that the child’s present environment may seriously endanger his or her physical, mental, moral or emotional health. You can also ask for a modification at any time if there has been domestic violence, spousal abuse or child abuse that occurred since the parenting order was entered or last modified.
In other words, if it has been less than a year since your parenting order was put in place, you generally can’t ask the court to modify it based on an ordinary change in circumstances. But after a year since the last order, you can ask for a modification based on a change in your circumstances that is substantial and ongoing.
Suppose a national emergency occurred that required schools to be closed and many workplaces to shut down. You can work from home, but now you’re being asked to do so while simultaneously caring for your kids and trying to educate them. At the same time, your ex has lost their job and has plenty of time to help out with the kids. Can you ask for a modification?
Yes, and the modification could be temporary. You could petition the court to temporarily award more parenting time to your ex for the emergency period.
Can child support obligations be changed?
Yes, and if you need to reduce your child support because you’ve lost a job or experienced another substantial, continuing change in your circumstances, you should apply for a modification right away. You will continue to owe the same child support as always until you obtain a modification.
If you have an existing parenting order that needs to be changed, contact your divorce or family law attorney for help.