If you have good reason to fear your ex may harm or neglect your children, there may be a chance to change your parenting order. However, doing this is only allowed on a very limited basis.
In general, you have to wait a year since your last parenting order was issued before you can ask the court to change that order. The changes a parent requests to legal decision-making or parenting time will always have to be in the child’s best interest or the court will not grant the request.
It’s a bit more difficult if your parenting order has not been in place for a year. However, it can be done in circumstances where you can show good reason to fear abuse or neglect, domestic violence or spousal abuse. It may also be possible when your ex has been refusing to comply with the parenting order, but in such a case, you have to wait six months.
If you allege child abuse or neglect, domestic violence or ongoing spousal abuse against your ex, you will have to submit affidavits explaining why spending time with your ex will seriously endanger your child’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health. The court will consider this evidence and decide whether or not to grant a hearing.
It’s an uphill battle to reduce your ex’s parenting rights
Under Arizona law, legal decision-making and parenting time are to be granted in the child’s best interest. Modifications of parenting orders must also be made in the child’s best interest. That said, once a court has granted a parent parenting time, it is not allowed to restrict that time unless it finds that the parenting time would seriously endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health.
This is a difficult standard to meet. The courts focus in part on maintaining stability in children’s lives. They do not look favorably on parents’ attempts to limit the parenting time of their children’s other parents without very good reason.
In fact, if you try to modify your parenting order and the court finds that you are merely trying to harass your ex, you could end up having to pay your ex’s court costs and attorney’s fees.
If you do have good evidence to suggest that your ex may harm or neglect the children, you can ask the court for an expedited hearing.
An expedited hearing may also be available if your ex has been charged with a dangerous crime against children, child molestation or domestic violence against a minor victim.
While you wait for this expedited hearing, the court could suspend your ex’s legal decision-making authority or parenting time temporarily.
What should I do if I fear for my children?
Allegations of child abuse and neglect are very serious because they matter so much. If you have good evidence suggesting that your ex is likely to abuse or neglect your kids, you should take action. Call an experienced family law attorney who can assess your situation and tell you if you have enough evidence to modify your parenting order.