What Are the Laws in Arizona for Child Relocation After Divorce?

Child relocation after a divorce in Arizona involves many legal considerations, especially when it concerns the well-being of a child. This process is guided by specific state laws designed to balance the interests of the relocating parent with the rights of the non-relocating parent and, most importantly, to prioritize the child’s best interests. Understanding these laws is crucial for parents facing the prospect of relocation.

Child Relocation in Arizona: An Overview

In Arizona, child relocation refers to a situation where a divorced parent wishes to move a significant distance away with their child, impacting the existing custody arrangement. This situation often arises due to career opportunities, family support, or other personal reasons. Arizona law requires a careful evaluation of such requests, placing a strong emphasis on how the move would affect the child’s well-being and relationship with both parents. The decision isn’t taken lightly; it involves an assessment of the potential benefits and drawbacks of the move, considering the child’s emotional, physical, and educational needs. 

Legal Criteria for Child Relocation

In Arizona, the court scrutinizes several criteria before approving a child relocation request. The most important consideration is the child’s best interest. Factors influencing this decision include the reason for the proposed move, its potential benefit to the child’s quality of life, and the impact on the child’s relationship with the non-relocating parent. The court also examines how the relocation aligns with the child’s emotional, educational, and physical needs. Additionally, the court considers each parent’s compliance with current custody orders and their motivations for seeking or opposing the move. Ultimately, the decision hinges on a balanced assessment of these factors to ensure the child’s welfare remains the focal point.

The Process of Requesting Relocation

  • Initiating a Relocation Request: The parent wishing to relocate must provide the other parent with written notice of their intent to move. This notice should include the proposed relocation date, the new address, and the reasons for moving. It’s essential to provide this notice well in advance, as Arizona law typically requires a 45-day notice period before the planned relocation.
  • Response from the Non-Relocating Parent: Upon receiving the notice, the non-relocating parent can agree or object to the relocation. If they object, they must file a Petition to Prevent the Relocation with the court. This Petition should outline their reasons for opposing the move and how it might negatively impact the child. They must show that the move is not in the child’s best interest or that the request is not being made in good faith.
  • Court Hearing and Evaluation: If there’s an objection, the court will schedule a hearing to evaluate the case. During this hearing, both parents can present their arguments, evidence, and any relevant witness testimony. The court will assess all presented information, focusing on the child’s best interests.
  • Final Decision and Order: After considering all factors, the court will make a decision. If the relocation is approved, the court may issue new custody and visitation orders to accommodate the change. These orders will address how the child will maintain a meaningful relationship with both parents post-relocation.

How Relocation Impacts Custody and Visitation Rights

Child relocation in Arizona can significantly alter existing custody and parenting time arrangements. When a parent moves away, especially over a considerable distance, it necessitates a reevaluation of how the child will maintain a meaningful relationship with the non-relocating parent. This often leads to modifications in custody agreements, potentially shifting from shared to sole legal decision-making, depending on the situation. Visitation schedules might also need adjusting to accommodate the new geographical constraints, often involving longer, but less frequent visits, and possibly incorporating virtual visitation methods. These changes aim to preserve the child’s strong bonds with both parents despite the physical distance.

Contact an Experienced Child Relocation Attorney

At Cohen Family Law, we offer compassionate guidance and skilled representation for your child relocation case. Our dedicated team understands the intricacies of Arizona’s family laws and will work hard to support your family’s needs. Reach out to us for personalized advice and steadfast legal assistance in navigating this significant transition.