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Legal Decision-making and Parenting Time refers to how you will make decisions regarding your children and what days they will be with each parent.  (Formerly known as custody and visitation.)  If you were never married to the other parent and need to establish court orders for legal decision-making, parenting time and/or child support, you will need to follow these steps.

First Court Orders (Establishment):

Steps:

  1. One parent files a petition to establish legal decision-making, parenting time (and/or child support). This person will be listed as the “Petitioner” throughout the remainder of the court proceedings. You can obtain forms related to legal decision-making and parenting time by clicking on the following: http://www.coscpinalcountyaz.gov/forms.html then go to “Family Law,” “Petition to Establish Legal Decision-Making, Parenting Time, and/or Child Support.”
  2. The person that filed the Petition must officially “serve” the Petition and all associated documents on the other party within 120 days of filing the paperwork.
  3. After all of the documents have been served, the other parent has 20 days to file a response if they were served in Arizona, or 30 days to respond if they were served in another state. If you complete the service by publication, the other parent has 60 days.
  4. The other party files a response within the timeframes listed above. The Respondent must also mail a copy of the documents filed to the other party. These forms can also be found at: http://www.coscpinalcountyaz.gov/forms.html. Click on “Family Law,” then “Respond to a Case,” and “Response to Petition to Establish Legal Decision-Making, Parenting Time, and/or Child Support.”
  5. Your case may be set for a hearing with the Judge or a conference through Conciliation Court. If both parties are represented by attorneys you may be set for a Resolution Management Conference. If you agree on everything, you may or may not have this step in your proceeding and may move to step 6.
  6. If you and the other party reach agreement regarding your parenting plan and child support, you may be able to prepare a Consent Judgment and submit it to the Judge for signature. You and the other party must sign the document in front of a notary and it can then be submitted to the Court for signature and finalization. If you participate in a conference with Conciliation Court, they will prepare the legal document and submit it to the court for you.
What if the other parent does not respond?

If the other parent does not file a response to the petition within the specified timeframe, you may be eligible to request a Default Hearing. (Please link the word default to go directly to the default page.)

I Want to Change Our Current Court Orders (Modification):

Steps:

  1. One parent files a petition to modify legal decision-making, and/or parenting time, and/or child support. Choose the appropriate form based on what you are requesting to modify in your parenting plan go to http://www.coscpinalcountyaz.gov/forms.html click on Family Law and Modify an Existing Court Order.
  2. The Petition and all documents must be officially served on the other party.
  3. After service has been completed, the Respondent may choose to file a response.
  4. You may be set for a hearing with the court or a conference with Conciliation Court.
  5. A stipulation or consent modification may be filed if the parties reach agreement (this will be prepared by the Conciliation Court if you attend a conference.)
  6. If the parties do not agree, then you will be set for a Trial and given an opportunity to present evidence and have witnesses testify. The Judge will issue final orders within 60 days in your case upon completion of the trial.