After a divorce, it can be a challenge to co-parent effectively with your ex. It can become even more challenging if one parent decides to move away and take the kids with him or her.
If your ex has said they want to move out of state, or more than one hundred miles away within Arizona, you have the right to object to the move. You may not be able to stop the move, but you also have the right to ask for a new parenting plan that preserves as much of your parenting time as possible after the move. These rules apply to people who have joint legal-decision making or parenting time orders with their ex.
If your ex moves away without getting permission from the court, your existing parenting order will still apply. Your ex will therefore have to facilitate your parenting time, as stated in the court order, even if that means significant expense and travel.
Notice required, moves allowed in the children’s best interest
Whenever someone who is subject to a parenting order wants to relocate with a child, they are required to give the other parent 45 days’ notice by certified mail, return receipt requested. Then, within 30 days of receiving that notice, you generally have the right to petition the court to prevent the relocation of the children. Your ex also has the ability to ask for a hearing on the relocation.
Upon receiving the petition, the court will set up a hearing on the relocation. Whether the relocation will be allowed is determined based on the children’s best interest, and the parent who wants to move has the burden of proving the move is in the children’s best interest.
The court will consider all relevant factors to determine what is in the children’s best interest, including:
- All the original factors used to determine parenting time, such as the children’s relationship to each parent; the children’s adjustment to home, school and community; any domestic violence or child abuse; the child’s wishes, as appropriate; and each parent’s likelihood of promoting meaningful, continuing contact between the children and the other parent
- The motives of each parent and the validity of the reasons given for moving or opposing the move, including whether either parent is seeking financial advantage
- Whether the move is being made, or being opposed, in good faith, as opposed to in an effort to frustrate the relationship between the children and the other parent
- The prospective advantages of the move for the moving parent’s and children’s quality of life
- Whether the move allows a realistic opportunity for parenting time by both parents
- The likelihood that the moving parent will continue to comply with parenting orders
- The extent to which refusing the move would affect the physical, developmental and emotional needs of the children
- The effect of the relocation on the children’s stability
If the court agrees to allow the move, Arizona law requires the court to make appropriate arrangements to ensure the continuation of a meaningful relationship between the child and both parents. Your attorney may draft a new parenting plan that minimizes the disruption of the move on your relationship with your kids.
There could be consequences for bad faith
It’s important to note that, if either parent in a relocation situation acts in bad faith, the court could sanction them. For example, if the court should find that one parent unreasonably denied, restricted or interfered with the other parent’s parenting time, the court may order that parent to pay the other parent’s attorney fees and court costs.
If your children’s other parent is talking about moving away, it’s important to take action right away. Contact an experienced family law attorney for help.