Like most court orders in Arizona family law, child custody orders can be modified. Pursuant to A.R.S. § 25-411 and Rule 91, the parent seeking modification must meet certain requirements and usually must demonstrate continuing and substantial changes to material circumstances that affect the welfare of the children to justify modification. In other words, parents cannot modify simply because they are unhappy with the current parenting time or legal decision-making orders.
In this particular case, the existing court orders designated our client, the Mother, as the primary residential parent and awarded her final say legal decision-making authority over the parties’ child and we believed there had been no material changes since those orders were entered. Nevertheless, Father retained a well-known family law firm in Phoenix to modify parenting time and decision-making, most likely hoping to reduce Father’s child support obligation.
In this situation, some family lawyers might have simply answered the petition and braced for litigation at the client’s expense. Instead, we aggressively moved the family court to dismiss the petition entirely. The judge granted our motion and our client avoided the hassle, stress, and expense of unnecessary family law litigation.
Father’s attorney filed a motion for reconsideration, where he asked the judge to reconsider his ruling and reinstate the case. Father’s motion was denied.