After a divorce involving a minor child in Arizona, one parent may wish to relocate, either for an employment opportunity or another legitimate reason. However, child custody disputes are not uncommon when a parent seeks to relocate, particularly out-of-state. Because such a move may interfere with the other parent’s right to play a role in his or her child’s life, the courts are generally reluctant to approve a move unless it is in the best interests of the child. If you are involved in a parental relocation dispute, you need an experienced family law attorney in your corner.
Cohen Family Law, conveniently located in Phoenix, is a premier family law practice dedicated to protecting the rights of parents throughout the state of Arizona. We understand how disruptive child custody battles can be, which is why we prefer to reach negotiated resolutions to parental relocation disputes. Founding attorney Mitchell E. Cohen is a highly experienced family law mediator with a well-earned reputation for providing his clients with informed representation and caring, personal service.
Above all, our team is here to protect your parental rights and find a workable solution for your family. When you become our client, you can count on us to be your allies and your advocates, fighting for what’s best for you and your child.
Child Custody & Parental Relocation Laws in Arizona
Before a divorce will be granted, the spouses must agree on a parenting plan to establish which parent will have primary custodial rights and the visitation rights of the other parent. The Arizona courts are inclined to grant both parents legal decision-making authority for their child, as long as they are able to work together. If the parents share joint legal custody, a parental relocation can be a lengthy process and a number of conditions must be met:
Notice and Consent
The relocating parent must provide the other parent at least a 45-day advance written notice before relocating a child out-of-state or more than 100 miles from the child’s current home in the state. The notice must be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested. A parent who fails to comply with the notification requirement faces a court sanction; however, the notice requirement does not apply if the relocation is by a court order or written agreement between the parties.
Petition of Parental Relocation Prevention
The non-relocating parent has a right to petition the court to prevent the child from moving within 30 days of receiving notice of relocation. To block the child relocation, the non-relocating parent must be able to show that the move is (1) not in the child’s best interests or (2) not being made in good faith. If the parent with primary custody is required to move due to employment, health, or other extenuating circumstances in less than 45 days after giving notice, the parent may temporarily relocate the child.
Relocating Parent’s Burden of Proof
The parent seeking to relocate must be able to show that the relocation is in the best interests of the child. It is also necessary to prove that the move is being made in good faith, for a legitimate reason. Factors the court will consider include the child’s relationship with the non-moving parent, whether the move provides opportunities for both parents’ parenting time, and the emotional, physical, and developmental effects the move may have on the child.
Visitation Schedule/Modification of Child Custody
Although the relocating parent is not required to propose a visitation schedule, the court will seek to ensure that the child continues to have a meaningful relationship with both parents after the relocation. Depending on the circumstances, the relocating parent may allow the child to have longer vacations with the non-moving parent. In any event, both parents are bound by the court’s decisions regarding parenting time.
Courts are generally hesitant to deviate from a parenting plan, however, unless it is no longer in the child’s best interests. To modify a child custody or parenting time order, a motion must be filed with the court. Unless there is evidence of domestic violence or there is reason to believe the child is in a toxic environment, one year must pass since the original custody and parenting time order was issued before a modification will be granted.
Access to Records
After a relocation, parents with joint legal custody continue to be entitled to access any information about the child, including prescription medication, school records, and any other information the court deems essential to maintaining the child’s physical and emotional health.
The Arizona Courts Have the Final Say in Parental Relocation
Ultimately, the court makes parental relocation decisions based on what is the best interests of the child. This includes factors such as:
- The wishes of the parents and the child concerning where he or she will reside
- The relationship between the child and both parents
- Which parent has been the primary caretaker of the child
- How the move will affect the child’s quality of life and well-being
- The degree to which the child has adjusted to his/her current environment
- The relocating parent’s reasons/motives for moving Other relevant factors
Whether you are seeking to relocate or the other parent is moving, you need to work with a family law attorney who is highly experienced in handling relocation issues.
Contact Our Arizona Parental Relocation Family Law Attorney
Family transitions such as parental relocations can be stressful for all family members. With the advice and guidance of a trustworthy family attorney like Mitchell E. Cohen, you can make the best decisions for your family. If you are seeking to relocate, or need to prevent a parent from relocating with your child, we can help. When you consult us, we will explain all your rights and help you navigate the legal system. Above all, we are dedicated to protecting your parental rights and finding a solution that is in the best interests of your child. Please contact Cohen Family Law today for a free consultation.