After the parties divorced in 2011, they shared joint custody of their three minor children who resided primarily with Mother. A few weeks later, Mother fled with the children to Mexico in violation of the divorce decree. The family court modified the decree to award sole legal decision-making to Father, order the children to reside primarily with Father, and order all parenting time for both parents to be exercised within Maricopa County.
When Mother did not see the children between 2013 and 2018, Father petitioned to suspend Mother’s parenting time until a “therapist recommends the children are ready” to reunify with their Mother. Mother did not file a response. The family court set a hearing and determined that parenting time with Mother would endanger the children after her extended absence from their lives. The court appointed a therapeutic interventionist (often called a “TI” in family courts), at Mother’s sole expense, to supervise reunification between Mother and the children.
Division of TI Costs
Mother appealed and argued that the family court was required to allocate the costs related to the therapeutic reunification based on the parties’ financial circumstances pursuant to A.R.S. § 25-406(B).
But, as the Court of Appeals explained, the appointment was made under a different statute, A.R.S. § 25-405(B), which imposes no restriction on the family court’s authority to allocate the costs as it deems appropriate.
Family courts retain considerable discretion to appoint various professionals and order parties to complete certain services, particularly when cases involve child custody. Here, the family court allocated all of the costs to Mother because it found that her voluntary absence from the children’s lives necessitated the therapy.