Once a ruling has been entered by the court, there are only certain aspects of that decision that can be modified in the future. The division of assets and debts is a permanent order and cannot be modified. Orders regarding children and financial support can be changed in the future.

A modification regarding legal decision-making (custody) and parenting time (visitation) can take place if there has been a substantial and continuing change in circumstances involving the children. Generally, a modification cannot be sought sooner than one year following the entry of the most recent order unless there is an emergency situation.

Examples of substantial and continuing changes for Post-Decree Modification in Arizona include:

  1. Major changes to a child’s health or educational performance;
  2. A parent’s use of drugs, excessive alcohol, or involvement in criminal activities;
  3. Or the introduction of new parental relationships which are severely and adversely affecting the children.

The children’s increase in age or a parent dating or getting remarried are not usually the basis for a modification.

A request to modify legal decision-making or parenting time requires a formal document be filed with the court which specifically identifies the issues and presents a proposal on how to resolve them in accordance with the best interests of the children. If the petition does not meet certain standards, it can be denied outright by the court.

Financial orders such as spousal maintenance (also known as alimony) and child support can be modified at any time there is a change in financial circumstances. These changes can include a parent’s change in income, a change in the cost of health insurance or child care, or a parent supporting another biological or adopted child. The court has a simplified procedure to modify child support which helps to speed the process.

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