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It is not uncommon after a divorce for one parent to desire to relocate to another city or state. This could be due to a new job, a new spouse, family connections, or a chance to start a new life. Whatever the reason, one parent’s move will have a major impact on child custody.  If parents cannot agree on a relocation, then the decision will be left up to a judge. A judge will evaluate several legal  factors to decide the custody arrangement best suited to the child’s needs.

First, a child’s best interests are always the starting pint in any judge’s decision.  Courts consider many factors in deciding what will best serve the child’s emotional and physical needs. Some of these factors include:

  •     each parent’s physical and mental health
  •     which parent is more likely to allow the other frequent visitation
  •     the child’s relationship with each parent
  •     each parent’s ability to provide stability
  •     each parent’s history of domestic violence or child abuse, if any, and
  •     the child’s adjustment to home and community.

Understanding Relocation Rules for Arizona Parents

A “relocation” is more than a move down the street or even across town.  By law, a relocating parent must provide the other parent with 45 days advance written notice of a move out of state or a move that is equal to 100 miles away within the state.  The non-moving parent then has the opportunity to petition the court to prevent the relocation.

How Will a Judge Decide a Relocation Case?

After looking at the best interests, the Court will address relocation.  When considering a parent’s request to prevent a move or get permission to move with a child, a judge will look at how the move will negatively impact the child’s well-being. Each side will submit evidence and a judge will hold a hearing to determine if a relocation should be allowed and if so, how to adjust custody. At the hearing, a judge will hear live testimony from each parent, friends, relatives, teachers, or anyone else with relevant testimony. Specifically, a judge will consider the following:

  •     the parent’s reasons for seeking to move
  •     whether the planned move is in good faith or simply to interfere with the other parent’s visitation
  •     whether the child’s quality of life will improve as a result of relocation
  •     the past, present, and potential future parent-child relationship with both parents
  •     potential effects of less visitation with non-moving parent
  •     the child’s relationship with siblings
  •     the child’s adjustment to home and community
  •     the child’s preference, if of sufficient age and maturity,
  •     any other factor the court deems necessary.

The parent who is trying to move with the child has burden of proving that the move is in the child’s best interests. While courts recognize each parent’s rights to travel and further a career, those rights must be balanced against the child’s best interests and the other parent’s right to maintain a meaningful relationship with the child.

If you are trying to relocate or prevent the other parent from relocating, please contact our experienced Attorneys at LASITER & JACKSON at (602) 234-5900 to schedule your free 30 minute consultation.


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