Parental Relocation / Move Away Requests in Arizona

Often one of the parents desires to move with the minor child or children to another state or a substantial distance within the state (over 100 miles) which would make it more difficult for the other parent to exercise his or her parenting time. Sometimes one of the parties desires to be closer to family members and where they have job opportunities. Sometimes one of the parties meets a significant other and desires to relocate to marry and/or live with such person. Sometimes one of the parties is remarried and his/her spouse is in the military and is being transferred to another base. Although all such reasons are legitimate, they may or may not be enough to convince the Court to grant a relocation request. Relocation requests are governed by Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-408. If the parties have joint legal decision making, certain procedures need to be followed. If a party has sole legal decision making, the requirements of the statute do not apply. If one of the parties lives out of state, then the statute does not apply either.  If the parties both reside in Arizona and share joint legal decision making, the statute does apply and the party desiring to relocate generally has to obtain permission of the Court (certain exceptions apply if notice is given and not responded to within the statutory period of time). Of course, if both parties agree to the relocation, a stipulation can be submitted. However, if the relocation is disputed, the Court will have to decide. There are some circumstances that a party with primary parenting time can ‘arguably’ temporarily relocate pending the Court’s determination of the dispute, however this is usually not recommended as the Court may find that such relocation without a Court order was unreasonable. The decision of the Court rests upon the best interests of the child. The party desiring to relocate has the burden of proof to show that the relocation would serve the best interests of the child. Factors to be addressed include whether the other parent can still have a meaningful relationship and parenting time if the relocation were granted, whether the relocation is being made or opposed in good faith and not to interfered with the parental rights of the other parent, the prospective advantages of the move to the children and the relocating parent, the likelihood the moving parent will comply with parenting time orders, and how the child’s stability and well being may be affected by such relocation.  Generally relocation requests  are rarely granted in situations where both parents have equal (or close to equal) parenting time and both are fit parents. Situations that involve a parent with limited parental involvement, domestic violence issues and/or substance abuse issues are more likely to be granted (but not guaranteed). If a relocation request is denied and the parent moves anyway, the Court will generally grant material parenting time during holiday periods, summers and other periods that the child is not in school.  Bishop Law Office attorneys will be happy to meet with parents who seek to relocate or oppose a relocation and provide our expert advice and feedback regarding your options.