Relocation and Child Custody

Most family law judges would easily confess that the toughest cases in family law are “relocation cases”. In deciding whether or not to allow a parent to relocate to a distance that would significantly impact the other parent’s relationship with his/her child who remains in the location (especially out of state), the court must focus on what is in the best interest of the child. Relocation cases can arise for many different reasons. For example, when a parent who has primary custody of the child remarries and his/her new spouse either lives in another state or, perhaps, is in the military and is being reassigned to another state. Additionally, either the custodial parent and/or his/her new spouse might have a mandatory job reassignment to another state (or simply a very good job offer). The necessity and reason for the move are all factors that the court must consider in light of what is in the best interest of the child. The court will certainly also consider how grounded the child is in his/her current environment taking into consideration school, extracurricular activities, and extended family member presence in the current location.

A parent who is considering relocating with a child is required, under Arizona law, to give at least a 60 day advance notice of the intent to move. The notice must be by certified mail, return receipt requested, or service by a licensed process server. The parent remaining then has 30 days to file a petition with the court to prevent the relocation. This legal procedure is currently under review by the state legislature which may substantially change the legal procedure for a relocation case. It is important that you discuss this issue with an attorney prior to your move if at all possible. For a consultation on your rights and responsibilities, please contact us.