Know the Laws: Arizona
UPDATED December 30, 2016
As with everything on this site, this information is not legal advice. Custody is complicated and it is important to try to find an experienced lawyer to help you with your case. To read information on finding a lawyer, please click on the Where to Find Help tab at the top of this page. Note: In Arizona, custody is known as "legal decision-making” and visitation is known as “parenting time.”
To change (modify) a final legal decision-making and parenting time order, you must fall into one of the following categories:
Please note that some special rules apply to military families. To read about the modification of legal decision-making orders that involve military families, read section A.R.S. § 25-411 on our AZ Statutes page.
To change a legal decision-making and parenting time order that is already in place, you generally need to file a motion with the court that issued the order, even if you moved. Generally, for the court to change your legal decision-making or parenting time order, you need to show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances since your last hearing and that the new arrangement would be in the best interest of your child.
You can find the forms you will need to fill out for a modification of legal decision-making at our AZ Download Court Forms page. You can find legal help with this process through our AZ Finding a Lawyer page.
* A.R.S. § 25-411
If both parents are entitled to joint legal decision-making or parenting time (either by written agreement or by court order) and both parents reside in the state, either must give the other parent at least 45 days' notice in writing (sent certified mail, return receipt requested) if s/he wants to do either of the following:
When deciding whether or not to allow a child to relocate to another state (or to relocate more than 100 miles within the state), the judge will consider the following:
Usually, yes. Whether or not a noncustodial parent has access to the child's school records, medical records, prescription medication records, court records and police records may depend on what your legal decision-making and parenting time agreement says. If your legal decision-making and parenting time order is silent about this fact, both parents would have access to these types of records regarding the child. In fact, if you do not comply with a reasonable request for these records, you can be ordered to reimburse the requesting parent for court costs and attorney fees that the parent spends to force you to comply with this law and you can be punished by the court as well. compliance with this section.*
The judge could limit the parent's right to these records if s/he determines that access by the noncustodial parent would place the child’s or custodial parent’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health in serious danger.** If you would like to limit the other parent's access to your child's records, be sure to tell this to the judge. If the judge refuses to deny access, and you are living in a confidential address, you might want to take steps to try to keep your address confidential such as asking your child’s doctors, schools, etc. if you can give a P.O. box instead of your actual address.
* A.R.S. § 25-403.06(A),(B),(D)
** A.R.S. § 25-408(K)
WomensLaw.org thanks Lynne Norris at the AZCADV for her help in putting together this material, Sarah Youngblood, Managing Attorney at Community Legal Services, Eastside Office for her help in revising this section, and Merri Tiseth and Shannon Rich at the AZCADV for their revisions.