Enforcing the Parenting Time in Arizona
When a parent has deliberately interfered with the other parent’s visitation (known as parenting time), Arizona provides several remedies, contained in A.R.S. 25-414. The purpose of laws enacted by the Arizona legislature is to ensure parents work together and share time with the children. Therefore, limiting another parent’s time is a serious matter. And, looking at it another way, limiting the child’s time with a parent is detrimental.
How to Make a Complaint
The parent should submit a verified complaint to the court, requesting the court enforce the parenting plan or order in place. The other parent will have an opportunity to respond and appear in court. If a hearing has been held, and the offending parent has failed to provide any good reason or justification for denying or interfering with the other parent’s parenting time, the court has the power to find one of the following
- That parent is in contempt of court,
- Mandate visit/parenting time to cure the deficit,
- Order family counseling or parent education, which is paid by the offending parent.
The court may also direct both parents to enter mediation, in order to develop a better working relationship and ensure this does not happen in the future. Likewise, the court may also appoint a parenting coordinator to act as a go-between when the parents cannot agree.
The court has the power to impose whatever other provisions it holds to be in the children’s best interest. Also, if the offending parent has sole legal decision-making, the other parent may want to seek modification of the legal decision-making. Requesting modification of legal decision-making requires careful planning. The parent seeking modification must prove to the court there has been a substantial and significant change in circumstances and that modification is best for the children. It should not be done as an effort to punish the other parent.
Reviewing the Law
Parenting Plans or Legal Decision-Making and Parenting Time Agreements are a contract between parents with minor children. Each parent gets a certain amount of time to spend with their children based upon an agreement reached by the parents or an order entered by the court. There are very few reasons for a parent to not comply, especially when there are legal methods to modify it.
The legal doctrine ‘best interest of the child’ is the foundation of Arizona parenting time. When a child’s parents are no longer together, the child will do better when the parents make an agreement and stick to it. It is in the child’s best interest to create a “united front.” Interfering with parenting time or withholding a child from a parent creates stress and anguish for the child, as well as the parent. Children’s best interests are never served when parents use them as weapons to punish each other.
If a parent believes the current parenting time schedule creates harm for the children, he or she should go to court and request a modification. Modification in a structured environment is far better than obstruction. Act in the best interest of your children and speak with the lawyer.