Here are a few tips on how to make changes to parenting time. The divorce is complete and life is finally settling into a new normal. But, what happens if you need to make changes to the parenting time? Parenting time, formerly called visitation, is typically specified in the divorce Decree. It is part of a parenting plan that both parents ultimately agree to during the divorce or as ordered by the judge after trial. The plan may have very specific details about the time children spend with parents, including how the handoff will take place. While every effort is made to ensure a good plan is put into place, the evolving needs of the children may dictate changes to the schedule.

Parenting Time

Parenting time is meant to allow children to spend quality time with both parents after a divorce. Children may live with one parent and spend time with the other or may spend approximately equal time in each household. In Arizona, there is a growing trend towards equal parenting time being the “norm.”

Making Changes

It is important to realize that the children’s schedule should always be based on the needs of the children, not the parents. Changes that are necessary must be made in the best interest of the children. As kids get older, their requirements change. They may have new school activities and lessons that need to be accommodated. At the same time, parents may have changes in their lives. These changes may have an impact on parenting time. Minor adjustments, which are agreeable to both parents, can be made as required.

Legal Changes to Parenting Time

A parent may petition the court for a legal change in parenting time when there has been a significant change in circumstances, or when the current environment could be a source of harm to the child. Court modification to parenting time is to be considered a last resort. Parents are expected to communicate regarding minor changes to the schedule on their own. When legal modifications are needed, the parent requesting the changes must file the appropriate documents with the court. If there is not an immediate threat to a child’s safety, it could be required by the existing orders to first mediate before filing a Petition to Modify.

Emergency Circumstances

The law provides for emergency circumstances when there is immediate danger to the child. If the changes are desired because the child was seriously hurt or abused, or is in an environment that could lead to harm or abuse in an immediate sense, a parent may request immediate action. This is done by filing a petition to modify along with a “Motion for Temporary Modification of Custody or Parenting Time without Advance Notice to the Other Party” (formerly called an emergency modification). This is a complex process and legal advice should be sought, if possible, prior to filing.

Changes to parenting time can be complex, but must be made in the best interest of the child. An experienced family law attorney will be able to assist you in achieving the necessary changes.

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 How to Make Changes to Parenting Time, 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.