Children, Arizona Custody and A “Substantial and Continuing Change in Circumstances”

Written by: Stefano Ceroni


It is a crucial element of the family court system that all prior Arizona custody (legal decision-making) orders affecting children be subject to future change when there is a “substantial and continuing change in circumstances.




Ugh.  It’s a BIG, SCARY Word.


But now that I think about it, there is no more perfect of a word to describe the theme of any child custody or divorce case than “change.”


Change from love to hate…


Change from trust to fear…


Change from calm to anger…


No matter what the case may be, dealing with “change” is an inevitable part of all divorce and custody-related cases.  The sooner you can learn how to deal with change, accept change and cope with change, the better you will undoubtedly be.


Change, however, is not always a bad thing.


In fact, one of the biggest advantages to Arizona child custody law is the fact that parties, no matter how hard they may try, cannot hide from “change.”


Okay…so “change” is good!




Well, if you’re anything like me, making decisions (especially big…long term…life changing decisions) can often be a very stressful and difficult process.  The agony of having to decide something that I will be forced to live with for years to come can actually give me anxiety.




Simple really…there is always the looming thought that the decision I am forced to make could turn out to be the wrong one. And, what if it’s worse than wrong…what if it’s disastrous?  What will happen…what will I do…how will I survive the error of my ways?


When you really think about it, it’s actually quite scary. So what we do?  How do we get past that fear?


Well, for one thing, you can learn to accept that life is not always “peaches ‘n’ cream.” I mean sometimes there is just not much we can do about the bad decisions we make. This is just a simple fact of life. And, when you think about it, it’s actually not such a bad fact.


Not being able to hide from our mistakes and evade the consequences of our decisions helps us learn. It helps us grow. It even helps us become better at making other decisions.


Change, however, gives us a second chance.


Change allows us to transform, move forward and evolve.


Change allows us to alter the path of our destinies and rewrite the course of our history.


Because of this, because of the ever important impact that change can have, because of its power to re-right wrongs, because of its determination to pursue something better…


THAT is why change is needed.


I say all this to again tell you something you need to know about change and your children:



It is a crucial element of the Arizona family court system that all prior orders affecting children be subject to future change.




Because you cannot guarantee that any order will continuously serve the best interest of a child. Sometimes, circumstances change.  Parents move, they suffer from injury, they get in trouble with the law, etc.  So… to make sure that a child’s best interests are always protected, the Court allows for changes in prior orders whenever one party can show that a “substantial and continuing change in circumstances” has happened.


So, what should you take away from this fact?


Take the comfort in knowing that there are mechanisms in place that allow for change when there is a “substantial and continuing change in circumstances” and when it serves the best interest of your children.

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