Child Relocation in Arizona

For legal purposes, child relocation in Arizona is described as moving a child more than 100 miles from his or her current residence, or moving a child out of state.

Common questions that arise regarding child relocation are the following:

  • What is the legal child relocation process?
  • As a custodial parent, what are my rights in terms of child relocation?
  • As a non-custodial parent, what are my rights in terms of child relocation?
  • If I have joint custody, can I move to another city or state with my child?
  • Can I stop my former spouse from moving to another city or state with my child?
  • If my child’s parent relocates with my child, do I have a right to visitation?
  • What is a long distance child visitation schedule?
  • For what reasons can a parent move to another city or state with their child?
  • What should I do if my former spouse has moved away with my child?
  • Does the court have to approve child relocation?
  • What if my former spouse wants to move less than 100 miles away?

What is the legal Child Relocation Process?

Child relocation can be broken down to a few steps:

  1. 1.       The first is the determination of a parent that relocation , or a move, more than 100 miles away is necessary. This is often due to an employment opportunity.
  2. 2.       The custodial parent, a person with sole custody or one with joint custody and primary physical custody, must officially inform the other parent of their intent to move at least 60 days before the move is to occur.
  3. 3.       The other parent may legally contest the move at least 30 days before the move is to occur
    1. a.       If the move is not contested, the move may proceed. However, a move does not preclude the other parent from parenting rights or rights of visitation provided for in the Parenting Plan.
    2. b.      b If the move is contested at least 30 days before the move is to take place, the courts will determine what is in the best interests of the child, according to A.R.S. 25-403 and the following:
  • Whether the move is made to interfere with the child’s relationship with the other parent
  • If the move will improve the child’s quality of life
  • Whether the custodial parent will comply with the parenting plan
  • Whether relocation will allow parenting time for both parents
  • The emotional, physical, developmental needs of the child
  • The motives of the parent in moving and the validity of the reasons for the move

As a custodial parent, what are my rights in terms of child relocation?

Custodial parents are those who have sole custody or joint custody and primary physical custody. A parent with sole custody or joint custody with primary physical custody must inform their child’s parent of their intention to move more than 100 miles away with at least a 60 days of the move.

Regardless of the type of custody you have, the other parent may legally contest the move at least 30 days before the move is to take place. See the Child Relocation Process, part b.

As a non-custodial parent, what are my rights in terms of child relocation?

In most cases, non-custodial parents are concerned about the custodial parent moving away with their child. As a non-custodial parent, you are still entitled to a relationship with your child and frequent visitation. The terms of your visitation rights should be detailed in your Parenting Plan.

If a move by the custodial parent of your child will interfere with your visitation and/or parenting plan, you have the legal right to contest the move. You must do so through the court system at least 30 days before the move is to take place.

According to Arizona law, the non-custodial parent must receive legal notice from the child’s parent regarding their intent to move at least 60 days before the move is to take place. The custodial parent does not have the legal right to relocate without giving this notice; however, a custodial parent may, in some instances, move before the 60 days have passed. This move does not preclude the non-custodial parent from contesting the move.

If the original divorce decree mandates that neither parent will relocate, the custodial parent does not have the legal right to relocate for any reason.

If the non-custodial parent is the one who must relocate, he or she may seek an adjustment to their Parenting Plan to allow for a more sensible visitation schedule that takes into account logistical concerns. This may mean longer visitation periods during holidays from school and summer breaks, and fewer visits during the school year.

To discuss your situation with the family law attorneys at the Law Offices of Corso and Rhude, contact us today for a free consultation.

If I have joint custody, can I move to another city with my child?

Your ability to relocate with your child is dependent on the type of custody you enjoy. See custodial parents above, if you have joint custody and primary physical custody.

If you have joint custody but your child’s other parent has primary physical custody, you are allowed the same rights to contest the move as any parent. See child relocation process above.

If you have joint custody and substantially equal custody (the child spends about the same amount of time at each household) you have the same rights to contest the move as any parent. See child relocation process above. Furthermore, a parent with joint and substantially equal custody does not have the right to move before the date set in the official letter of intent to relocate without the written consent of the other custodial parent.

Can I stop my former spouse from moving out of state with my child?

See Child Relocation Process.

If my child’s parent relocates with my child, do I have a right to visitation?

You do not lose your parenting or visitation rights through child relocation; however, if you feel your ability to see your child will be affected due to financial, logistical, or other reasons, such as non-compliance by the child’s parent, you have the right to contest the move in court.

By contesting the move in court, you may be able to prevent a move that will materially affect your relationship with your child and/or create a new parenting plan and visitation schedule that will help ensure that you maintain your relationship with your child. See long distance visitation schedule.

What is a long distance visitation schedule?

A long distance visitation schedule refers to a visitation agreement that takes into account the logistical difficulties and expenses that arise between parents who live a substantial distance from one another.

Long distance visitation schedules often divide a child’s time between households in consideration of their school schedule. The school year and a few holidays are often awarded to one parent, while school breaks, a few holidays, and part or all of summer breaks is awarded to the other parent.

A general guideline is provided: Parenting Time Guideline for Maricopa County. Parents are encouraged to create a visitation schedule that works for both parents and is in the best interest of the child.

For what reasons can a parent move away with their child?

Language in A.R.S. 25-408 stipulates that moves must be “required by circumstances of health or safety or employment of that parent or that parent’s spouse”. Examples of this include an employment opportunity, moving closer to medical specialists or moving near an ill relative.

What should I do if my spouse has moved away with my child?

If you were not informed of the move or were not informed at least 60 days prior to the move, contact Corso and Rhude today for a free consultation.

Does the court have to approve child relocation?

The court does not have to approve a child’s relocation when the parents agree to the move or in the following instance:

  • The parent was informed by letter at least 60 days before a move took place that their child was to relocate at least 100 miles away

AND

  • The parent did not legally contest the move at least 30 days before the moving date stated

This does not apply to persons serving in the military. Parents serving in the military are given additional protections under Arizona and federal laws.

What if my former spouse or child’s parent wants to move less than 100 miles away?

Moves less than 100 miles away do not meet the legal definition of child relocation in Arizona. This allows a parent to move as needed within the state. However, a parent who moves should make sure to inform the child’s other parent of the move. According to Arizona law, parents have the legal right to this information and failure to keep the other parent informed of moves of residence or school is in violation of Arizona law.

If a move less than 100 miles away will interfere with your ability to see your child because of logistical, work-related or transportation issues that arise from the move, you may be entitled to changes in your child custody and/or visitation schedule and Parenting Plan.

To discuss your individual situation with an experienced family law attorney, contact the Law Offices of Corso and Rhude today for a free consultation.

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