After divorce, a former spouse and parent may wish to relocate to a different city or state. This could be due to a job opportunity or for the chance to make a fresh start in a new place. Moving, however, will have a significant impact on an established child custody arrangement. While some parents can come to an agreement on how to handle custody should one parent be seeking relocation, others are unable to do so and, thus judicial intervention is required.
A move across town will not merit re-evaluation of a custody arrangement, but relocation will. In Arizona, relocation is considered to be a move out of state or a move that is equal to 100 miles away within the state. If the parents have a joint custody arrangement, the parent looking to relocate has an obligation to provide the other parent with 45 days’ advance notice via certified mail of the intended relocation.
The non-moving parent then has the opportunity to file a petition with the court to prevent the relocation. To clarify, the court will decide whether the parent is allowed to relocate with the child. This does not mean that the parent could not still relocate without the child should the court rule in favor of the non-moving parent’s petition. Decisions pertaining to relocation and child custody are complex and involve the evaluation of a number of different factors.
When an Arizona court is tasked with deciding whether or not a parent should be allowed to relocate with a child, the judge will weigh several different factors with the best interest of the child standard guiding the decision. Each parent will be granted to opportunity to provide evidence to support his or her position at a hearing to determine whether the relocation will be allowed. Should the relocation be allowed, adjustments to the custody arrangements will also be decided. At the hearing, both parents can proffer evidence to support their position in the form of things such as testimony from friends, family, and other relevant parties.
In deciding what would be in the best interest of the child, a judge will consider things such as:
- The parent’s motivation for relocating
- Whether relocation will improve the child’s quality of life
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- The child’s relationship with any siblings
- The potential effects of the child having less visitation with the non-relocating parent
- The adjustment period for the child to a new home and community
- If of sufficient age and maturity, the child’s preference
- Any factor determined by the court to be necessary to the evaluation
After considering all relevant factors, the judge will determine whether the move would be in the best interest of the child. Should relocation be permitted, any necessary adjustments to the custody arrangement already in place will be determined.
Child Custody Attorney
Child custody after divorce can present continuous challenges for all involved. If you are looking to relocate after a divorce or your co-parent with a former spouse who is looking to relocate with your child, it is important that you know your rights and understand the process. The dedicated family law attorneys at Cohen Family Law are here to help. Contact us today.