Q: Is this acceptable when he has joint custody?
Hi, I have a parenting agreement that was done in 2019. We share joint custody. However my son’s father only spends about 16 hours a month with him. Refuses to spend more time. Does not take him to or schedule any doctors appointments. Never calls off work to stay home with him when he is sick. Never takes him to school or picks him up. He pays child support, half of pre school costs and never has him over nights. He has no limits to when and what he can do with his son. I ask for more help because I am in nursing school full time and work part time. Our son also has been diagnosed with learning disabilities. He requires more attention and therapy appointments. My parents carry more of the responsibility than he is right now. Is this enough grounds for a review and change to parenting agreement.
A: Certain items of your Orders are always modifiable under certain circumstances, including Legal Decision Making and Parentng Time. Timing is important when pursuing modification of any Orders, and delays can have detrimental effects. The manner of seeking change is through a Petition to Modify. You can modify Legal Decision Making upon a showing of "the failure of the other parent to comply with the provisions of the order", or other significant and continuing changes. The court may modify parenting time rights whenever modification would serve the best interest of the child, "but the court shall not restrict a parent's parenting time rights unless it finds that the parenting time would endanger seriously the child's physical, mental, moral or emotional health".
There is no way to predict exactly what a Judge will do. Your goal would be to paint an overall picture of the life you provide for the child compared to Father's. If you do not believe the current schedule to be in the child's best interests, you will need to prepare to convince your judge of your concerns.
You have also described a situation which may warrant a modification of child support. One of the criteria the Court used to calculate child support is how much parenting time Father spends with the child. If he literally has not had one overnight, that may warrant a significant adjustment.
Please remember that Arizona does not allow retroactive child support modifications. So, if you believe you are entitled to a modification, you need to file soon. Every month you wait is a month you lose.
A qualified and experienced family law attorney can of course assist you in considering your options and then getting where you need to be. Most of us offer free, ½ hour consultations, in which your matter can be discussed in detail. That would be a great opportunity to discuss the specifics of your matter and develop a plan.
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