Here are some tips on communicating effectively about parenting time changes. When a divorce is finalized, visitation (now called parenting time) is typically addressed and made part of the order. The parenting time needs of the child (or the parents), however, often change over time. Parents must learn how to effectively communicate with each other so that changes to parenting time can be made. The decisions made regarding children must be made in their best interests. The parenting time needs to be reasonable and specific. When changes are required, they should be done through the legal system.

Review the Parenting Time Plan

The parenting time plan, in place as part of the divorce, should stipulate exactly how parenting time is to be handled. It lists how the child will spend holiday times, vacations, weekends, and other days. However, just because an arrangement is in place now does not mean that it may not need to be revised. The original plan may become obsolete as the child grows and has different needs. Usually, Arizona parenting plans and divorce decrees will state a requirement that the parents are to review the terms of the plan periodically – usually every 12 or 24 months.

Formal Communication

Changes made to the parenting time plan are most safely  made through the legal system so that there is an enforceable order for parenting time clearly available. Any changes, even minor ones, should be made in writing and approved by both parents. Further, the document is best when notarized. Get into the habit of putting any requested changes in writing. This will help to clarify the request and ensure that the changes are done at the agreement of both parties. It is a good idea to discuss the changes with your divorce attorney and proceed according to his or her recommendations.

Minor or Major Changes

A minor change to the parenting time may be a simple pick-up or drop-off time change. A major change could be the request of one parent to move out of town with the child. When a major change is requested, it is best to seek representation from an experienced family lawyer. Your attorney will review the request and help you protect your parental rights. Minor changes are often necessary to accommodate the changing schedules of the child. Changes for these reasons are understandable and easily tolerated but should still be reviewed by an attorney before committing them to a new written court document.

Best Interest of the Child

Remember that children are generally allowed to spend time with both parents and Arizona’s policy is to maximize time between fit parents as best as possible. Parenting time is a way to make sure that children spend quality time with each parent. Decisions made regarding parenting time must be made in the best interest of the children. When a modification is requested, it may be denied by the court if the change is not for the betterment of the child. Communicating with your former spouse is necessary when considering any changes, but keep in mind that they should be made legally through the court system. Contact an experienced family law attorney to learn more about how to handle modifications to parenting time after divorce.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Communicating Effectively About Parenting Time Changes, or other family law issues, please feel free to contact Lindsay A.M. Olivarez at 480.461.5300, log on to, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.