Arizona Child Visitation Laws

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

Romantic break-ups and divorces can be highly contentious, especially when there are child custody and visitation disputes to sort through. Although there are many similarities across jurisdictions, each state has its own laws concerning visitation rights.

In Arizona, a key distinction in child visitation laws begins with the terminology. In many states, "parenting time" is synonymous with "visitation." However, Arizona's "parenting time" is the scheduled residential time that the parent has with their child, but "visitation" refers to the scheduled time that non-parents (including grandparents) spend with a child.

Instead of using the term "legal custody," Arizona uses the term "legal decision-making" to refer to the decision-making authority for a child. If a parent isn't awarded sole or joint legal decision-making, then they are entitled to reasonable parenting time unless the court determines that it would endanger the child's physical, mental, moral, or emotional health.

Arizona Child Visitation Laws at a Glance

Reading and understanding statutes can be confusing and challenging. It's recommended to get an accurate statutory interpretation from an attorney, but you can also refer to a version of the content written in easy-to-understand terms. See the chart below for information on Arizona's child visitation laws.

Statutes

Arizona Revised Statutes:

Parenting Plans

If the child's parents can't agree on a plan for parenting time or legal decision-making, then each parent must submit a proposed parenting plan to the court.

The court will attempt a parenting plan that provides for both parents to share legal decision-making and maximizes their respective parenting time. This decision is made by using the "best interests of the child" standard.

The parenting plan includes the following:

  • A practical schedule of parenting time for the child, including holidays and school vacations;
  • A procedure for the exchanges of the child, including location and responsibility for transportation; and
  • A procedure by which proposed changes and disputes are to be resolved (which may include conciliation services or private counseling).

Domestic Violence

If the court finds that a parent has committed acts of domestic violence, the parent has to prove to the court's satisfaction that parenting time will not endanger the child or significantly impair the child's emotional development. If the parent meets this burden, the court will place conditions on parenting time that best protect the child and the other parent from further harm. The court may order:

  • That an exchange of the child must occur in a protected setting;
  • That an agency or another third party must supervise parenting time;
  • That the parent who committed the act of domestic violence must attend and complete a DV intervention program;
  • The parent to abstain from possessing/consuming alcohol or controlled substances during parenting time and for 24 hours before parenting time; or
  • A prohibition of overnight parenting time.

Parenting Time Violations

If the court finds that a parent has refused without good cause to comply with a visitation or parenting time order, the court can do at least one of the following:

  • Find the violating parent in contempt of court;
  • Order visitation or parenting time to make up for the missed sessions;
  • Order parent education at the violating parent's expense;
  • Order family counseling at the violating parent's expense; or
  • Order civil penalties not to exceed $100 for each violation.

Modification of Parenting Time

A parent may ask the court to modify parenting time if they can prove sufficient evidence that it's in the child's best interests to do so. The parent must file a Petition for Modification of a Parenting Time.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Arizona Child Visitation Laws: Related Resources

Questions about Arizona Visitation Laws? Ask a Lawyer

Understanding visitation rights can be difficult, but it's best for your child to know where you stand. Consider contacting an experienced Arizona child custody lawyer for assistance with asserting your rights or modifying parenting time.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

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