If you have custody orders through the Arizona courts, you cannot move with the common children out of state, or even over 100 miles in state, absent an agreement or a Court Order.
If the other parent contests the move, pursuant to Arizona law (A.R.S. § 25-408), the Court will determine whether the relocation is in the best interests of the child or children. It is the burden of the party requesting the relocation to prove that the move is in the children’s best interests. Some of the factors considered are:
- Who has been the primary caretaker
- Whether the request to relocate is being made or opposed in good faith
- Whether the non-moving parent will have a “realistic opportunity” for parenting time
- The likelihood the moving parent will comply with parenting orders
- The anticipated impact of the move on the child’s stability, emotional, physical and developmental needs, and quality of life (as well as the moving parent’s quality of life).
Even if the other parent agrees in theory to a move, parents still have to agree on a long distance access schedule and possibly a change in child support.
Therefore, if you are considering relocating with common children, mediation may be the best first step. Mediation is a conflicting-avoidance method to resolve disputes. The mediator, a neutral party, will help parties reach agreements using conflict resolution skills. If the parties reach agreements, the mediator can help the parties create a binding agreement, which the parties can then use to submit appropriate documentation to the Court. Mediation is usually much less expensive, time consuming and stressful than litigation. Further, mediation offers certainty, whereas going to Court presents a risk of losing to both parties.
Please note that there are very specific requirements on how and when to give notice to the other parent that you want to move, as set forth in A.R.S. § 25-408, which this article does not cover.
Alona M. Gottfried is a mediator and attorney in Arizona. If you have questions about mediation or family law, she can be reached at: 480-998-1500 or email@example.com. This is a general interest article only and is not intended to be legal advice. See a legal professional before making legal decisions.