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How do I go about changing a child custody order?

In Arizona, orders with respect to child custody and parenting time are not set in stone. Under the right circumstances, a parent can pursue a child custody modification, especially if that parent feels that the current custody arrangement is no longer in the best interests of the children.

While a parent in Phoenix and the surrounding suburbs in Maricopa County can ask for a change in custody or parenting time, there are certain limits to their being able to do so.

Probably the most important limitation is that, in most cases, a parent may only ask for a review of a custody or parenting time order once a year has elapsed since the last order. Moreover, in order to actually get a change in the order, the parent will have to show how the change is going to be in the best interests of his or her children.

There are some exceptions to this one-year limitation that may allow for a parent to try and change custody arrangements more often. For instance, if there is an incident of domestic violence or child abuse that happens after a custody order has been entered, the court may re-visit its order immediately.

Other grounds for reviewing an order that is less than one year old are that not doing so could harm the child and a parent's non-compliance with an order for joint legal custody, which may also be referred to as "joint legal decision making."

If a parent feels that his or her custody order should be changed, but the other parent does not agree to the change, then the parent will likely have to return to court to make his or her case before a judge. This is often best done with the help of an experienced family law attorney.

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