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Relocating with Minor Children

Unless you have sole custody of your child, your ability to move out of Arizona or even 100 miles in the state is severely restricted. If you and your parenting partner share joint custody and both of you reside in Arizona, you must give 45 days advance written notice of your intention to move or ask the court for permission. Your notice must be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested or served on your parenting partner. Your parenting partner then has 30 days to ask the court to prevent the relocation. In most instances, even if you have sole custody, you must abide by your parenting time court order until the court changes it. There is a lot more that you need to know.

No. You must give at least 45 days advance written notice sent by certified return receipt mail (or served by a process server) to your ex. Your ex then has 30 days to file an objection with the court. After that, the court can still hear the issue, but only if your ex shows good cause.

Yes. You can always file a petition with the court requesting relocation. Also, if you are having an emergency, you may have other options. See below.

It depends on what kind of custody arrangement you have. If you have either sole or joint legal decision-making and your child primarily lives with you, you can temporarily move in less than 45 days, but only if you are required by circumstances of health, safety, employment or an eviction of either you or your current spouse. The operative word here is “temporary”. If your ex has objected within 30 days of the notice, the Court must still have a hearing and it can change the temporary order.

If you share joint legal decision-making and substantially equal parenting time, then you cannot even temporarily relocate unless both you and your ex execute a written agreement to permit the move.

But even if you are allowed to temporarily move, you still have to comply with your parenting time order.

Not necessarily, it depends on whether your new Phoenix home is located more than 100 miles from your Tucson home. If it is more, then you must give the notice. Regardless, you must comply with the parenting time arrangement that is currently ordered unless it is altered by the Court.

If your ex and you agreed in writing that you could relocate or a prior court order permits it, you do not have to give the 45 day notice, but ONLY IF that court order or written agreement is less than one year old.

The court will want to hear why it is in your child’s best interests to relocate. The relocating a parent has the burden to prove this. The court will also want to make appropriate parenting arrangements to ensure that a meaningful relationship continues between your child and both parents.

The court can consider any kind of relevant evidence, but expect the court to focus on at least the following factors (which are listed in ARS. §25-403 and 408).

  1. Relationships: The nature of both parents’ relationships with your child, their siblings and any other person who may have a significant connection with your child.
  2. Stability: Your child’s adjustment to home, school and community and whether the relocation will affect your child’s emotional, physical or developmental needs or stability. Also, the mental and physical health of everyone involved.
  3. Wishes of your child: Your child’s wishes, but only if your child is of suitable age and maturity. There is no magic age for this. 
  4. Desire to maintain future meaningful contact: The court must decide which parent is more likely to allow a child frequent and meaningful contact with the other parent and whether future contact is realistic. This may not apply if there has been domestic violence.
  5. Ulterior motives or deception to the Court:  The court will consider whether a parent intentionally misled the court, if there has been any coercion or duress regarding any prior parenting time agreement, and if your request to relocate (or your ex’s opposition) is made in good faith. In other words, it cannot be for the purpose of frustrating contact with the other parent or for gaining a financial advantage for child support).  It will also determine if either parent was convicted of an act of false reporting of abuse or neglect.
  6. Domestic violence: If there has been domestic violence, this can be a significant factor in the court’s decision.
  7. Advantages: The prospective advantage of the move for improving the general quality of life for you or your child.

No–not without a court order. If there is no custody order, but a court action was just filed, neither party can leave the state without permission of the Court or both parents. If you want to relocate before a final parenting order is entered, there will be a court hearing and you will have to show that the move is in your child’s best interests and everything else you would have to show in order to relocate after a court order is entered.

Yes. In five words: best interests of your child. This is what the Court will focus on and hopefully you and our ex will as well.

Message from McCarthy Family Law​

McCarthy Family Law is a full service family law firm that services all family law issues. If you are going through a divorce or have questions about filing for divorce, we are here to assist you. Please call us at 520-623-0341 to explore your options. Turning Stress Into Solutions®.