Arrangements for the sharing of parenting time with the children usually work with few complications and glitches. But those arrangements are made based upon where each of the parents resides, with travel times for pick-up and drop-off, work schedules and other, similar considerations factored in. In some cases, situations arise where one of the parents wants or needs to relocate. In order to ensure that rights of parenting time are protected as much as possible, Arizona law restricts the right to relocate without parent or court permission to within 100 miles of the former residence and to within the State of Arizona.
Sometimes, however, after parenting time rights are set by a court, one of the parents has a desire or need to relocate beyond that 100-mile limit or otherwise outside the State of Arizona. All kinds of reasons might be involved – a job transfer, a new relationship, a desire to live close to extended family members and support systems, or sometimes just a wish to get a fresh start – these are just a few. If there is no agreement between the parents, the courts will be called upon to rule as to whether such relocation should be permitted.
In disputed cases of this type, the courts consider numerous factors, including not only those it uses to determine legal decision-making and parenting time, but also at least these additional factors:
- Whether the relocation is being made or opposed in good faith and not to interfere with or to frustrate the relationship between the child and the other parent or the other parent’s right of access to the child.
- The prospective advantage of the move for improving the general quality of life for the custodial parent or for the child.
- The likelihood that the parent with whom the child will reside after the relocation will comply with parenting time orders.
- Whether the relocation will allow a realistic opportunity for parenting time with each parent.
- The extent to which moving or not moving will affect the emotional, physical or developmental needs of the child.
- The motives of the parents and the validity of the reasons given for moving or opposing the move including the extent to which either parent may intend to gain a financial advantage regarding continuing child support obligations.
- The potential effect of relocation on the child’s stability.
There are strict deadlines and requirements set by Arizona law before court proceedings can be brought. There is a deadline for the parents who wants to relocate to give notice of an intent to relocate to the other parent. There is a deadline for the non-moving parent to object or otherwise respond. There is a deadline for either of them to ask the court to intervene and rule on whether the relocation will be permitted to take place. There are also strict rules on whether a parent can relocate while waiting for the court to hear and rule on the dispute.
Contested relocation disputes are serious and can be very disruptive to your life.
Just as most people who want to relocate believe that they have a good reason and must be allowed to do so, most people who would have their parenting time significantly impaired or made significantly more expensive or inconvenient by such a relocation just as strongly believe that they have the right to stop this impending disruption to their lives. Judges must make these difficult decisions when the issue is in dispute and this is made even more difficult by frequent legislative changes to the law and its interpretation by appellate courts.
If you have a child and are subject to court orders regarding custody, legal decision-making, parenting time or visitation and are thinking of relocating more than 100 miles away or out of state, or if the other parent is thinking of relocating more than 100 miles away or out of state, you should act promptly to contact Victor Garnice to discuss the current state and interpretation of this law, what options you have and the best way to approach the problem. Legal deadlines for action are short.