Arizona child custody: Relocating with kids after divorce

Parents in Arizona must generally provide written notice and obtain permission to move a long distance or out of state with their children.

Following a divorce, people in the East Valley may wish to move. This may be to get a fresh start, to pursue a job opportunity or to be closer to family. When people share custody of their children, however, there is more to relocating than just packing up, loading the trucks and hitting the road. Arizona parents may require permission from the court for a long-distance relocation.

Reaching an agreement with the nonmoving parent

Perhaps the easiest way for parents to get permission to relocate with a child is to reach an agreement with the nonmoving parent. In some cases, people may include stipulations for relocations when they establish their parenting plans. In other situations, people may discuss their plans to move with their children's other parents. Then, they may reach a modified parenting agreement on their own that provides an updated visitation schedule.

Providing written notification

Under Arizona state law, parents must provide written notification to their children's other parents if they intend to move out of state with their child. The law also specifies that parents must provide notice if they plan to relocate their child more than one hundred miles within the state from their current residence. This notice must be provided at least 45 days before the relocation.

After they receive written notice, the nonmoving parents have the option to petition the court to stop the proposed move. They must take this action within 30 days. In these situations, the court will consider a number of factors in order to determine if the move is in the best interests of the child.

Determining the child's best interests

When deciding whether to allow a long-distance relocation, the court will consider a number of factors. State law specifies that these should include:

• How the child has adjusted to his or her community, home and school

• The child's wishes

• If the moving parent is likely to allow the child to have contact with the other parent

• The present, potential future and past relationship between the parent and the child

• The child's relationship with his or her siblings

Additionally, the court will take into account the reasons for the relocation, how the move will improve the child and moving parent's quality of life, and the opportunities for parenting time with each parent following the relocation. The effect of the proposed relocation on the child's stability and the impact that moving or not moving will have on the child's developmental, emotional or physical needs may also be considered.

Working with an attorney

Obtaining permission to relocate is not always a straightforward process for Arizona parents. Therefore, those who are considering a long-distance move may find it of benefit to consult with a legal representative. An attorney may explain the steps to them and help guide them through the process, as well as prove that the relocation is in their child's best interests.