From time to time, it becomes necessary for one parent to move out of Arizona with the kids. You may have to get permission from an Arizona court to move away with your children, which will depend on whether the move is in the children’s best interest.
It is generally possible to move, but your legal decision-making authority and parenting time may still be governed by Arizona law. This is because Arizona, like every state except Massachusetts, has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA).
When you move, you will need to register your parenting order with the court of your new state. This is done instead of having a new determination of parental decision-making and parenting time completed by the new state’s courts.
Once you have registered your parenting order, the new state has a duty to enforce it, if necessary. However, the new state will not have the jurisdiction to modify your parenting order under most circumstances. The jurisdiction to modify a parenting order remains with Arizona until such a time as Arizona decides it should no longer have that jurisdiction.
One of the major purposes of the UCCJEA is to prevent parental kidnapping. In the past, some parents have taken their children across state lines or even to foreign countries. Once there, they have sought more favorable parenting orders. The UCCJEA makes clear that the new state or country should enforce the original state’s order (assuming it has signed the treaty).
Are there any exceptions?
Yes. Arizona may decide that it should no longer have jurisdiction over your case in several common situations:
- Both parents and the child live in other states
- The parents and children no longer have any significant connection with Arizona and there is no longer any substantial evidence available in Arizona concerning the child’s care, protection, training and personal relationships, while the child has a significant connection to another state
- Another state is appropriate to have jurisdiction and would be more convenient for all parties
Additionally, there are some procedures for expediting a change in your parenting order in an emergency situation.
So, you may need to come back to Arizona if you need to modify your parenting order, especially if your children’s other parent still lives here.
The UCCJEA is a complex law with many important aspects. If you have questions about modifying or enforcing a child custody order when you no longer live in Arizona, contact an experienced Arizona lawyer.