Arizona Court of Appeals
Listrani v. Looney
In Listrani v. Looney, an unpublished memorandum decision, the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed the family court’s denial of a parent’s petition for relocation and its parenting time determination.
The parties were never married and had one child who was born in 2010. In 2018, Father filed a petition to establish legal decision-making and parenting time. Mother responded and petitioned the family court to relocate with the child to Oregon.
After the trial, the family court established paternity, legal decision-making, parenting time, and child support. It denied Mother’s request to relocate and explained that a long-distance parenting plan would need to be implemented if Mother decided to relocate without the child.
Mother appealed and summarily argued that the family court reached the wrong decision concerning relocation.
The standard of appellate review for relocations — like other parenting time determinations — is abuse of discretion. This means the party appealing the family court ruling must prove that the trial court misapplied the law or reached a conclusion unsupported by any evidence.
An appeal is not an opportunity to retry the facts or reweigh evidence admitted at the trial court level. Litigants cannot make new arguments to support their appeal.
The Court of Appeals simply reviews the trial court record to determine if the family court made a reversible mistake and the process is fairly technical.
One of the ways the Court of Appeals reviews the record is by reading a transcript of the trial and other important hearings.
Mother, who represented herself without an attorney, failed to provide a transcript. When the party who files the appeal does not provide a transcript, the Court of Appeals assumes that the transcript would support the trial court’s findings.
The family court made specific findings, as required, under A.R.S. §§ 25-403 and 25-408. Ultimately, it decided that the negative effect the relocation would have on Father’s relationship with the child outweighed any speculative advantages it might offer the child.
Family courts have great discretion to make parenting time determinations. When it comes to relocations, the parent who seeks to relocate has the burden to persuade the family court that relocation is in the child’s best interests. The family court determined that Mother failed to meet her burden and the Court of Appeals affirmed its decision.