Divorce is difficult on everyone involved, parents and children alike, but even more so when one parent is relocating. Relocation can be necessary for many reasons, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Here are a few recommendations for how to navigate relocation with children during or after a divorce.
When Do You Need to Go Through the Courts?
Not every move is considered a relocation by Arizona family courts. Arizona only considers one parent’s move to be “relocation” if they’re moving out of state, or at least 100 miles away within the state. In other words, it’s worth it to do the math, as the proposed move might not even need to go through the courts.
If the move does qualify as a relocation, however, both parents have a timeline to adhere to. The parent who is relocating must notify the other parent at least 45 days before the move. And the other parent has only 30 days from the date of the notice to file a petition in court if they object to the move.
Making a Case
Whether you are the parent who is relocating, or the parent who is trying to stop the relocation, it’s important to know what criteria the court will be looking at in order to decide. Your case for or against relocation with children will need to revolve around:
- Motivation for the move. If the move is to further the relocating parent’s career or to be closer to family, for example, the court is likely to be more in favor than if the parent just wants to get away or find a “fresh start.”
- Parental relationships. The quality of the child’s relationship with each parent will also determine the court’s response to a petition to prevent a relocation. If the petitioning parent doesn’t have a strong or consistent relationship with the child, for example, or has a history of avoiding parental responsibilities, the court is more likely to allow the other parent to relocate.
- The child’s quality of life. If you are the relocating parent, it’s important to show that the move will significantly improve the child’s quality of life, whether that is due to increased income, better housing, better schools, or greater access to family and childcare. Conversely, if you are the petitioning parent you may be able to argue that the move will result in a much lower quality of life.
Adjusting Visitation Expectations
An important factor to consider during relocation with children is how the visitation schedule will be impacted. Since Arizona family law starts out by assuming that all decisions should be made in the best interests of the child, and that children typically benefit from good relationships with both parents, decision making rights and parenting time is usually divided as equally as possible between parents. When one parent wishes to relocate, though, frequent parenting time changes become a less viable option.
Instead, co-parents who live far apart from one another typically trade off parenting time for longer chunks of time. For instance, one parent might have the kids during the school year, and the other during school vacations, with alternating holidays. This, of course, requires new strategies for staying in touch with children and coparents.
Find an Arizona Family Law Attorney
It’s important to remember that even if you or your co-parent is planning to relocate out of state, your child custody orders will remain based in Arizona. To consult with an experienced Arizona child custody lawyer about relocation with children, contact Simon Law Group today.