For parents looking to relocate out of state, whether for a better job opportunity or to be closer to family, special care needs to be taken to ensure they’re complying with Arizona law if they’re planning to relocate with their minor child(ren).
For starters, relocation refers to a permanent move out of state or more than one hundred (100) miles within the state of Arizona, not a vacation or short trip. For vacations, the custody order currently in place governs what notice and contact information the parties need to provide each other.
As to relocation, some parents believe that if they have sole legal custody or primary physical custody of a child, they’re allowed to relocate with their child at any time. This is flat out wrong. So long as the other parent is entitled to custody or parenting time with the minor child, Arizona law requires at least sixty (60) days’ advance written notice before a parent can relocate with the minor child. Not only this, but notice has to be sent by certified mail with return receipt requested, or by filing for relocation through the court.
Within thirty (30) days after notice has been provided, the nonmoving parent can petition the court to prevent the relocation if they so choose. If and when the nonmoving parent files a petition, the court will then set a hearing and, if necessary, a trial to determine whether or not relocation is in the best interest of the minor child. The burden of proving that relocation is in the child’s best interests is on the parent who is seeking to relocate. In making that determination, the court takes into account a variety of factors, such as whether the relocation is being made in good faith and not simply to frustrate the relationship between the child and the other parent, whether or not relocation would improve the general quality of life of the parent or child, and the extent to which moving will affect the emotional, physical, or developmental needs of the child, etc.
Finally, there are limited circumstances where a parent can temporarily relocate with the minor child after notice has been given but while the issue of relocation is still pending before the court. However, in order to do so, the parent would have to have sole legal custody and/or primary physical custody, and be required to relocate due to health, safety or employment. Even then, you should consult an attorney to confirm that you’ve complied with the requirements as to relocation under Arizona law.
If you have questions about relocation or any other family law issues, you should contact an attorney at Trullinger & Wenk at (623)536-5500. Thank you.