Often times I meet with prospective clients who for example have filed for a modification of child support (simplified) and while that matter is pending the other party or they themselves file for modification of another family law issue, be it custody or parenting time for example. People in this situation often ask if it possible to consolidate both matters together so they are heard by the court at once instead of on two separate occasions.
Rule 5, Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure, ("ARFLP"), states in relevant part:
When actions within the scope of these rules involving a common child, common parties, or a common question of law or fact, are pending before the court, the court may order a joint hearing or trial of any or all the matters in issue in the actions or order all the actions consolidated, and the court may make such orders concerning proceedings therein to avoid unnecessary costs or delay or to serve in the best interest of a minor child.
Therefore, in accordance with the ARFLP, if your Arizona family court matter is one qualifying for consolidation, you have the right to request of the court that both or all issues be heard together at once. As the rule indicates though, the court may deny such consolidation if to do so would not serve the best interest of a minor child. One example where the best interest of the minor child may not be served by consolidation is when a pending petition for modification of child support which asks for an increased monthly amount is before the court in concert with another request, for instance a modification of child custody and/or parenting time.
In this circumstance, it generally will take the court much longer to hear the matters related to child custody and/or parenting time and if child support is to be adjusted and/or increased then the child's best interest would not be served by delaying that matter to be heard in conjunction with the custody or parenting time issues. This is merely one example and many others should be considered prior to asking the court to consolidate your family law matters. For this reason it is suggested that you contact an experienced Arizona family law attorney.
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