Each state has its own rules on modifying child custody, and Arizona is no different. For divorced parents who want more time with their kids, it's important to go through the courts.
Maybe you have a great relationship with your ex and think you can sort out the details without appearing before a judge. But that might backfire if later things change in your relationship and you find yourself left out of important decisions for your child.
Without a court order, it's difficult to enforce verbal agreements about custody. Better to go through the steps with the court so you can set up a regular schedule with your child.
Luckily, Arizona makes things easy if both parents agree to custody modifications. All you need to do is fill out and sign some paperwork and then file it with the court.
By having the modification on record, you'll have a way to enforce the custody agreement if later on your ex won't let you see the kids. If you don't file it with the court, proving your right to custody will be much harder.
If you can't agree on changes in custody, you'll have to go through a longer process to convince the court that modification is necessary and in the best interest of your child.
In either case, you'll still have to wait a year since the last order was made to request modification. The courts prefer giving children stability which means not changing custody too often.
Of course, the one-year minimum can be suspended in certain circumstances.
You can request modification any time you have evidence that a child's present environment will seriously endanger his or her physical or mental health. That generally means the presence of domestic violence or child abuse in the home.
Even without serious danger, you can request to modify a custody order after only six months if one parent fails to comply with the order.
Before you make a motion to the court, talk to your attorney about your reasons for modifying custody. That way you'll know your chances of success before you begin.
Time with your kids and the right to make decisions to keep them safe and healthy is important, both for you and for them. Take the extra time to get your paperwork in order so you can keep your relationship with your children strong.
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