RELOCATIONS ARE DIFFICULT BUT WE CAN HELP
Custodial relocations are more complicated than ordinary child custody modifications, especially for the parent who wishes to relocate. No matter which side of the case you’re on, you will want an experienced child custody attorney by your side.
FAST FACTS ABOUT RELOCATION
Under Arizona law, the term “custodial relocation” refers to when a parent subject to a formal or informal parenting plan (joint legal decision-making and/or parenting time) seeks to relocate the child out of state or more than 100 miles away within Arizona.
Most Arizona family lawyers will agree there is some predisposition against relocation in family courts. This means that parents who want to relocate their children have a difficult burden of proof to overcome. These cases are more complex than ordinary child custody determinations and usually require trial, so it is especially important to hire the best child custody attorney you can find.
If both parents live within Arizona and share joint legal decision-making and/or any parenting time, the parent seeking to relocate must notify the other parent, in writing, at least forty-five days before the planned relocation. Notice must be made by certified mail with return receipt requested.
Within thirty days after notice is made the nonmoving parent may file a formal objection and petition the family court to prevent relocation of the child. If the nonmoving parent does not file to prevent relocation within this timeframe, the objection may be granted only upon a showing of good cause.
When a parent opposes relocation, the family court must determine if it is in the child’s best interests to relocate. Pursuant to A.R.S. § 25-408, the family court must consider the following factors:
1. The factors prescribed under section 25-403.
2. Whether the relocation is being made or opposed in good faith and not to interfere with or to frustrate the relationship between the child and the other parent or the other parent’s right of access to the child.
3. The prospective advantage of the move for improving the general quality of life for the custodial parent or for the child.
4. The likelihood that the parent with whom the child will reside after the relocation will comply with parenting time orders.
5. Whether the relocation will allow a realistic opportunity for parenting time with each parent.
6. The extent to which moving or not moving will affect the emotional, physical or developmental needs of the child.
7. The motives of the parents and the validity of the reasons given for moving or opposing the move including the extent to which either parent may intend to gain a financial advantage regarding continuing child support obligations.
8. The potential effect of relocation on the child’s stability.
When the family court decides a relocation, it usually must create a long distance parenting plan. We say “usually” because sometimes the parent who sought to relocate may change his or her mind. A long distance parenting plan typically gives parenting time to the non-primary parent during summers and extended school breaks. The court has discretion to allocate the costs of any long distance travel between the parents.