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Filing for Legal Decision-Making and Parenting Time

Arizona Civil Legal Needs Community Survey

Civil legal organizations in Arizona are seeking your input to increase their ability to meet the civil legal needs of Arizona's lower income residents. Please complete this survey to assist in improving civil legal services in Arizona.

Encuesta de Necesidades Legales Civiles de Arizona

Las organizaciones legales civiles en Arizona buscan su opinión para aumentar su capacidad de satisfacer las necesidades legales civiles de los residentes de bajos ingresos de Arizona. Por favor complete esta encuesta para ayudar a mejorar los servicios legales civiles en Arizona.


Requesting legal decision making and parenting time can take place at any time in Arizona.  The first thing to do is to complete the court forms to establish child custody.

Note: If paternity is in question, it must be established before an application for custody can be entered.

Once all forms are completed, the following steps need to occur:

  1. Make copies of the Summons, Preliminary Injunction, Petition to Establish Child Custody. Parenting Time and Child Support, and Order and Notice for the Parent Information Program.  You will need 2-3 copies of each set of documents: 1 - clerk of the court, 1 - other parent, 1 - you, 1 - Attorney General (if applicable)
    1. Do Not copy the Family Court Cover Sheet or Sensitive Data Sheet; these will be filed with the clerk of the court.
  2. File the original documents at the counter of the nearby Superior Courthouse.  Bring the additional copies, so that the clerk can stamp them as being "conformed."  When you file, you will also have to pay the current fees or file for a Fee Deferral or Waiver.
    1. Make sure you get 2 sets of copies back - one for you and one to be served to the other parent
  3. Serve the Order to Appear information and other documents to the other parent/attorney and to the Attorney General (if required)
    1. Papers may be delivered by the Sheriff's Department, by a licensed process server, local constable, or by one of the other methods found in the "Service" packet.
    2. Serving papers to the Office of the Attorney General is done by mailing or personally delivering a copy of all documents to their location; an "Acceptance of Service" form must be included in the packet of documents served.
      1. The State is not considered served until the Acceptance of Service is signed by the Attorney General and filed with the Court.
  4. Wait for the other parent to submit their response with the Court.
    1. The other parent has 20 days from the date of service to file a request for a hearing
      1. If they are outside of Arizona, they have 30 days to respond
    2. If a response if filed in time, you will receive a copy of the response and notice of when to appear in Court
    3. If a response is not filed in time, you must notify the Court that the other parent defaulted and that they should move forward with your request as is.
  5. Attend the court hearing.
    1. Be on time
    2. Dress neatly
    3. Find out if children are allowed in courtroom
    4. Be prepared to tell the judge why they should agree with your filing position

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