5 Common Misconceptions About Visitation Rights in Arizona

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Most people have a general idea of what visitation rights are, but few know the specifics. When it comes to custody cases and visitation rights in Arizona, there are several misconceptions floating around. In this article, we’ll clear up five of the most common myths about visitation rights in our state.

Myth 1: The Court’s Decision Is Always Final

No matter what type of custody arrangement you end up with, there is always the possibility that it will change. It’s common for parents to find loopholes or ways around an agreed-upon visitation schedule. What you should remember is that going outside of the court ruling to have different visitation times may be considered a form of contempt, and can have long-term legal repercussions for everyone involved. 

If this happens, you should consider filing a motion requesting a court hearing as soon as possible to discuss changes in your visitation rights. A judge only makes the best decision he or she can given the circumstances surrounding each unique case during their custody hearings. Sometimes parents’ needs or children’s activities make it so one parent has more time than initially decided by the judge.

The visitation schedule will change if circumstances change such as moving away from your child’s other parent or changes in schedules or jobs. Visitation schedules are also subject to change if one party makes an effort at changing them. Also, fathers often get custody of their children only due to the mother giving up her rights or not fighting for them in court.

At the end of the day, visitation is about what’s in front of you on that given day.  If one party decides they want to break the agreement, it means you need to go back to court and have a judge tell them not to do it anymore. 

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Myth #2: The Courts Grant Visitation Rights To One Parent Only

The myth that one parent receives visitation while the other parent gets no visitation is probably the most common misconception about visitation rights in Arizona. This simply isn’t true. Both parents are entitled to visitation unless there are extenuating circumstances such as abuse or neglect.

The court can’t discriminate against either parent when it comes to visitation, so both parents will receive some type of parenting time with their children whether it’s equal or not. The courts do not favor one parent over the other in this regard.

Parents often ask if they can settle their custody dispute themselves without going to court, but mediation is often seen as a sign of weakness by the courts and could result in your case being dismissed altogether, leaving you with reduced parenting time than was initially ordered.

Myth #3: Grandparents Can’t File For Visitation Rights

Myths abound when it comes to visitation rights.  It is important for grandparents, who are interested in pursuing visitation over the objection of a parent, to be aware of some common misconceptions.

For example, you may have heard that sole legal custody of children automatically means that there are no visitation rights whatsoever.  That’s not true at all!  Arizona statutes do allow for joint or shared physical and legal custody arrangements depending on the circumstances of your case.

You should also know that courts take into account the wishes of children when deciding how to allocate time with each grandparent during divorce proceedings. This can be extremely helpful if you want to convince the court to order regular visitation with your grandchildren even if their mother or father objects.

Myth #4: The Mother Always Gets Visitation Rights

Arizona has a strong preference for joint custody, which means both parents will have equal time with their kids.  However, each case is different so there are some circumstances where only the mother will be granted visitation rights or even just sole physical custody.

The truth is, the decision of whether or not to award visitation rights rests with the court. Once a determination has been made that it’s in the best interests of the child for parents to share joint legal custody, then there will be regular visitation between both parents.  

But when only one parent has primary physical custody over the children, joint legal custody does not guarantee visitation rights for either parent unless there’s an agreement between parents or court order.

Myth #5: The Parent Who Doesn’t Get Visitation Rights Doesn’t Have To Pay Child Support

A common misconception about visitation rights is that the parent who doesn’t get visitation doesn’t have to pay child support. If you are not getting visitation with your children, it is important to understand that child support payments are not dependent on visitation. 

Child support is based on income and other factors, so if your ex isn’t allowing you to see your kids, that will not affect whether or not you have to pay child support.

Have more questions about visitation rights in Arizona? Give us a call. Our experienced family law attorneys can help clear up any confusion and guide you through the process. We want what’s best for both you and your children, and we’re here to make sure that happens.

Are You Looking for a Family Law Attorney You Can Trust?

The attorneys at GillespieShields are well-versed in a variety of different legal fields, ranging from family law to civil suits, employment disputes and probate cases. Although we specialize in several areas of practice, our greatest passion is family law. We believe in giving families peace of mind no matter their situation, and we fight hard to maintain that peace. Whether you’re filing for dissolution or divorce, determining custody of your children, or thinking about adopting children, our experienced attorneys are here to help you every step of the way.  During our private, one-on-one consultation, we’ll take the necessary time to answer all of our questions surrounding Arizona’s family laws, your family’s unique situation, and the possible court outcomes. Contact us today for your consultation!


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