When deciding if a parent will be allowed to relocate with a child or children, courts in Arizona conduct an investigation whether the relocation is likely to damage the relationship the child or children has with the parent who is not relocating. Following a divorce, it is not at all unknown for one parent desiring to relocate to another city or indeed, another state. It may be for a new spouse, a new career or just a fresh start in a new place. Regardless of the reason, it has a substantial effect on issues of custody. Following the move, if the parents are unable to come to an agreement regarding custody of the child or children, a judge will make the final and legally binding decision. The judge will consider many factors when assessing the most preferred custodial situation for the child or children. Therefore, as relocation custody can be a complex issue, it is vital to understand circumstances and situations that may impact your case.
Overview of Arizona Custody Laws
The center point of any custody dispute is what is in the best interests of the child or children. Let’s look at some of the factors court consider to be of paramount significance when deciding on the visitation and custody arrangements that will satisfy the physical and emotional needs of the child or children:
- The physical health and mental health of each parent.
- The relationship the child or children has with their parents.
- The ability of each parent to provide a stable environment for their child or children.
- If any of the parents have a history of child abuse or domestic violence.
- The ability of the child or children to adjust to a new community and home.
The judge will then make a decision as to whether to award sole or joint physical custody as well as sole and joint legal custody of the child or children having undertaken a consideration of factors relating to the health and wellbeing of the child or children. It is worth remembering a parent with sole custody of the child or children may have more leeway when it comes to the relocation of the child or children.
Relocation Rules For Arizona Parents
A relocation is not a simple move to the other side of town. When parents share legal or joint custody, the parent who is relocating is obliged to give advance notice of at least 45 days regarding an intended move out of state or an in-state move in excess of 100 miles. The parent who is not moving may then make a petition to the court preventing the relocation. When a judge refuses the relocation request, the other parent may still move there, but will be unable to take the child or children with them to live.
How Judges Decide Relocation Cases
Primarily, the judge examines the negative consequences a potential move may have on the wellbeing of a child or children. Evidence will be submitted by each side and the judge will determine whether to allow the relocation and how custody arrangements will be adjusted. At the hearing, a judge may hear testimony from the individual parents, relatives, teachers, or friends. In particular the judge is looking at the following aspects:
- The reason for the move.
- Is the purpose of the move to interfere with the visitation of the other parent?
- Will the quality of life and wellbeing of the child or children be impacted in a negative way?
- The relationships the child or children have with both parents, looking at the past, the present day and the future potential of these relationships.
- What are the possible effects of less visitation with one parent?
- The relationship a child or children has with their siblings.
- The adjustment to home and community the child or children will have to undertake.
- If they are of mature enough years, the preferences of the child or children.
- Any other circumstances the court deems to consider as important.
The burden of proof lies with the parent making the move to show it is in the best interests of the child or children to move with them. Courts understand the needs of a parent to move, travel and follow a career but the best interests of the child or children and the right of the other parent to maintain meaningful relationships with their child or children has to be balanced up against this.
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.