Written by attorney Ryan Michael Reppucci

Can I Amend My Family Court Petition?

The answer is maybe depending on the timing of your desired amendment. Rule 34, Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure (ARFLP) governs "Amended and Supplemental Pleadings." With regard to amendments, Rule 34 states in relevant text:

A party may amend the party's pleading once as a matter of course at any time before a responsive pleading is served or, if the pleading is one to which no responsive pleading is permitted and the action has not been placed upon the trial calendar, the party may so amend it at any time within twenty (20) days after it is served. Otherwise a party may amend the party's pleading only by leave of court or by written consent of the adverse party. Leave to amend shall be freely given when justice requires.

As Rule 34 indicates, amendments are generally freely given. To this note however, if you are required by rule to seek court approval prior to amending, it is generally sound practice to ensure that such amendment is proposed within a reasonable time prior to any scheduled evidentiary hearing or trial. If such proposed amendment is made too close to a pending evidentiary hearing or trial, although the amendment is likely to be granted, you run the risk of the judge permitting the opposing party leeway in continuing the matter.

If required to seek approval from the court for amendment it is important that your motion be submitted in proper form. First, items sought to be redacted from your original pleading must be clearly labeled as such. Second the proposed items to be added should be indicated as such and underlined. If and when the court approves your motion to amend, then you are required to file the amended document with the court again clearly indicating the item(s) to be struck while underlining the additions.

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