Whether you share custody or have visitation while the other parent has sole custody, Arizona does not allow either parent to move out of state with the children or a distance of more than 100 miles within the state if the move will harm the relationship with the other parent. The parent requesting the move must prove that doing so is in the child’s best interest.
Understand the process of requesting and contesting relocation if you or the other parent wants to make a significant move after divorce.
The legal process
The parent planning to move must give the other parent at least 45 days’ notice. He or she may either agree to the move or petition the court to block the move. When parents cannot agree about the relocation, the court will schedule a hearing at which the judge will decide whether to allow the children to move. Both parties can submit relevant evidence and call witnesses such as family members, teachers, health care providers and school counselors. The judge’s determination affects the legal custody order in your case.
The best interest standard
The judge will consider these factors when deciding whether to allow a parent to move:
- The child’s preference if he or she is school-aged and has the maturity to have input in the decision
- Why the parent wants to move
- How well-adjusted the child is in his or her current living situation and community
- Whether the parent who wants to move is doing so to block the other parent’s time with the children
- The child’s existing relationship with both parents, any siblings and other family members
- The quality of life the child may enjoy in the new home
- How the move may impact the relationship with the parent who remains in Arizona
In addition, all custody decisions account for the physical and mental health of the child and both parents. The judge will weigh each person’s ability to provide for the child and consider any evidence of past abuse or neglect.