Once your legal decision-making authority and parenting time arrangements are approved by a court, it can be hard, but not impossible, to change them. It depends in part on why you think you need to change your parenting order. A decision to change a parenting order will be granted only if it is in the children’s best interest.
There is a general rule that you can’t file a petition to change a joint parenting order for a year from the date of the existing order.
However, the court may allow the petition if you have evidence that the child’s environment with their other parent may seriously endanger their physical, mental, moral or emotional health. Additionally, you can petition if you can show that domestic violence or child abuse has occurred since the parenting order was originally issued.
Can I petition for a modification if my ex isn’t following the order?
If you have a joint parenting order and your ex is refusing to facilitate your parenting time or refusing altogether to allow it, you have legal options. For one, you can seek enforcement of the order. Courts generally enforce parenting orders by holding the violating party in contempt of court. This usually involves a fine but, in some cases, it can involve jail time.
What if my ex is a military member who is getting deployed?
While it’s true that you can often modify your parenting order after a substantial change in circumstances, deployment is generally not a reason for a modification in your parenting order. Arizona law does not consider a parent’s absence due to actual or potential deployment to be enough to constitute a substantial change in circumstances.
That said, the court can make a temporary change in the parenting order when the deployment would have a material effect on the military parent’s ability to exercise their parental rights and responsibilities. However, the deploying parent can generally ask the court to delegate their parenting time to another family member such as a step-parent or a grandparent.
What if I need to move?
Arizona law requires you to give 45 days’ notice to the other parent before you can move your children more than 100 miles from their other parent or anywhere out of state. This gives the other parent the opportunity to petition the court to prevent the move. The move will only be granted if it is in the children’s best interest.
Get experienced help
Modifying a parenting order can be challenging. Talk to an experienced lawyer for assistance.