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Modification of Child Custody in Arizona

Modification of Child Custody in Arizona

After a divorce or paternity action is commenced and the court enters final custody orders, circumstances may arise that require modification of the custody arrangement. It is not uncommon for work or school schedules to change or even for a parent to have to relocate out of the state. Parents are generally free to modify their custody and parenting time arrangements as they mutually agree. It is when parents don’t agree that the matter heads back to the court for a modification.

When can I modify custody?

In Arizona, custody modification is governed by A.R.S. § 25-411. Generally, modification of custody is not permitted within one year of entry of the custody order unless there is a significant danger to the child. Evidence that the present custody arrangement might seriously endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health, or evidence of domestic violence, spousal abuse, or child abuse are all grounds to seek a custody modification at any time.

A more common reason to seek a custody modification is when one parent fails to comply with the provisions of the custody order. A parent may seek a custody modification in these circumstances six months after the custody order was entered.

When making any kind of custody modification, the court will consider what is in the best interests of the child. The factors the court will consider when making its best interests determination can be found in A.R.S. § 25-403.

Summary

In Arizona, a party may petition the court for a modification of custody at any time if it can be shown that the child’s present environment presents a serious risk to the overall safety and welfare of the child. A parent may also petition the court for a custody modification based on the failure of the other parent to comply with the custody order six months after the order is entered. If there is no danger to the child or if there is no failure to comply with the order on the part of one of the parents, then parties must generally wait a year after a custody order is entered to seek modification of the custody order.

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