Can a Parent Move out of state without a custody agreement in Arizona? The short answer is no.
Courts in Arizona deciding whether a parent can relocate with their child or children have a duty to investigate if the move will harm the relationship the child or children has with the parent who is not relocating.
One parent often moves to another state following a divorce, be it for a new partner a new career or just a chance to start over somewhere else. Regardless of the reason, the move of the parent will have a significant impact on custodial issues.
A judge will decide and look at many different issues to decide custodial arrangements, if the parents are incapable of handling custody issues following the move. Without question these decisions are complex and it is vital you understand the circumstances that may impact your case.
Overview of Arizona Child Custody Laws
In any custody decision, the interests and wellbeing of the child or children is given top importance. Some of the factors taken into consideration include:
- The physical and mental health of each parent.
- The relationship the child or children has with each parent.
- The ability of each parent to provide stability.
- If there is a history of abuse or domestic violence with one or both parents.
- The adjustment required by the child or children to adapt to their community and home.
Based on this the judge will determine whether joint or sole custody should be granted to one of the parents for the child or children. Parents can share legal custody even when the one parent has lone physical custody of the child or children. But that parent may be in a better position regarding the relocation of the child or children.
Understanding Relocation Rules for Arizona Parents
A relocation is defined as a move out of state or a move within the current state they reside that is greater than 100 miles away from the current location of the child or children. When parents share legal or joint custody, the parent making the move must give 45 days’ notice of such a move. The parent who is not moving then can petition the court to prevent the relocation of the child or children. In circumstances where a judge refuses to allow the relocation, it means the parent cannot move with the child or children but may move without them.
How Will a Judge Decide a Relocation Case?
The primary factor a judge will consider in these cases is how the move may have negative consequences for the child or children. Each side will be required to submit a statement of evidence for the judge to consider. The judge will then hold a hearing to decide. At the hearing, the judge may hear live testimony from both parents, relatives, teachers, friends, as well as any others with relevant testimonies such as guardian ad litem. The judge will look primarily at these considerations:
- The reasons for the move.
- Is the move designed to limit the visitation of the other parent?
- Will the quality of life improve for the child or children following the relocation?
- The future as well as the past and present relationships of the child or children with both parents.
- The impact of one parent having less time and ability to have visitation with the child or children.
- The sibling relationships of the child or children.
- The community and home adjustment of the child or children.
- If the child or children are mature enough, what is their preference?
- Any other factors thought of importance enough to be included.
A good example of this in Arizona is when a trial court decided on preventing the Mother from moving out of state with her child as there was not a good reason for the move. In these circumstances, the woman’s new husband was looking for a job as a welder in the northeast United States. As the stepfather had no training or experience as a welder and no job to justify the move, the court decided it was unreasonable. In the end the court of appeals had the trial court rehear the case to consider other determining factors such as the effects on the child the move would cause.
The burden of proof is squarely on the parent of the child or children to establish the move is in the best interests of the child or children. While courts acknowledge the right of each parent to further their career and understand that may mean traveling, it has to be measured against the other parents right to keep a meaningful relationship with the child or children.
Source: Otterstrom, Kristina. “Child Custody and Relocation Laws in Arizona.” Www.divorcenet.com, Nolo, 31 Mar. 2017, https://www.divorcenet.com/resources/child-custody-and-relocation-laws-arizona.html.
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*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs.