Changing Parenting Time Order In Arizona
In Arizona, the trial court may modify an order granting or denying parenting time whenever modification would serve the best interests of the child. 25-411(J).
Those interests however, are informed, inter alia, by "parenting time with both parents." 25-103(B).
We review an order modifying parenting time for an abuse of discretion, Owen v. Blackhawk, 206 Ariz. 418,7, 79 P.3d 667, 669 (App. 2003), but questions of statutory interpretation are reviewed de novo, Palmer v. Palmer, 217 Ariz. 67,7, 170 P.3d 676, 678 (App. 2007) (applying de novo review "regarding the interpretation of statutes and decrees of dissolution").
If parents are unable to agree on any element to be included in a parenting plan, the court must determine that element "consistent with the child's best interests." 25-403.02 (B), (D); see also 25-403(A) (governing determination of parenting time, whether made "originally" or as modification); Jordan, 221 Ariz. 581,19, 212 P.3d at 927 (based on "clear statutory directive" of sections 25-403 and 25-403.02 (A), (B), "we have no difficulty in concluding that when post-decree disputes arise under the specific terms of a parenting plan included as part of a joint custody order, a best-interests standard should be applied").
In determining parenting time, a court "shall consider all factors that are relevant to the child's physical and emotional well-being," including:
The past, present and potential future relationship between the parent and the child.
The interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child's parent or parents, the child's siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interest.
The child's adjustment to home, school and community.
If the child is of suitable age and maturity, the wishes of the child as to legal decision-making and parenting time.
The mental and physical health of all individuals involved. 25-403(A).
Absent evidence to the contrary, as earlier noted, it is generally in a child's best interests to have "substantial, frequent, meaningful and continuing parenting time with both parents." 25-103(B). When parenting time is at issue, the court must make "specific findings on the record about all relevant factors and the reasons for which the decision is in the best interests of the child." 25-403(B). Failure to make the requisite findings in an order or on the record constitutes an abuse of discretion. Nold v. Nold, 232 Ariz. 270,11, 304 P.3d 1093, 1096 (App. 2013).