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Can a parent change a child custody agreement in Arizona?

Many parents go through the process of divorce in Arizona. According to data from the Arizona Department of Health Services, there were over 24,000 divorces in the state in 2015. Out of all divorces, nearly 2/3 of them occurred in Maricopa County. 

One of the biggest points of contention in any divorce is child custody. After the court reaches a decision regarding custody, neither parent can seek to alter it for at least one year unless there are extenuating circumstances that necessitate an immediate change, such as the child being in an abusive environment. It is extremely difficult to change a custody agreement even after one year, but it is possible and may be worth pursuing for parents. 

File an affidavit

When a parent wants to change the agreement, he or she must first file an affidavit to the court. This document must lay out the reason for why the party seeks the alteration. The paperwork must show there is adequate cause for such a change, and the definition of "adequate" can vary depending on the judge. Without a valid reason, the court may immediately throw out the case. 

Speak to the other parent

The process becomes much easier if both parents are on the same page. It is beneficial for one parent to speak to the other about why an alteration in the custody arrangement would benefit the child. If both parents petition a judge to change the agreement, then there is a greater likelihood of success. 

Attend a hearing

In the event the judge determines there is adequate cause, then there will be a hearing. This gives the parent seeking the change an opportunity to go more in-depth about why a change is in the best interest of the child. That is ultimately what the judge looks for. The parent needs to provide an argument as to why a different custody arrangement would benefit the child more than the current one. 

 

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  • MCBA | Maricopa County Bar Association
  • State Bar of Arizona
  • ABA | American bar Association | Defending Liberty Pursuing Justice
  • Oregon State bar
  • NACBA | National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys
  • NACA | National Association of Consumer Advocates
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The Dodds Law Firm, PLC, is located in Surprise and serves clients throughout the West Valley area. To schedule a consultation with a lawyer, call 623-208-6098 or toll free at 877-827-9906. You can also contact us online.

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