Know the Laws: Arizona
UPDATED February 19, 2013
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: As of 1/1/13, Arizona passed laws that changed the terms for custody and visitation (among other changes.) Custody is now known as "legal decision-making” and visitation is now known as “parenting time.” For additional information on legal decision-making and parenting time, including the pros and cons of sample parenting time schedules, you can read the AZ Supreme Court's guide, Planning for Parenting Time: Arizona’s Guide for Parents Living Apart (2009).
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 unsupervised 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 60 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:
Whether a noncustodial parent has access to the child's school and medical 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 their child’s records unless the judge 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. § 25-408(J)