FAQ: What is the procedure for relocating children when there is a custody order ?

If you have a court order or decree, read it carefully to determine if there is anything specific to your case that you must do before moving the child or children.

The Arizona law governing this question is Arizona Revised Statute 25-408.

A.R.S. § 25-408. Rights of each parent; parenting time; relocation of child; exception; enforcement; access to prescription medication and records
A. If by written agreement or court order both parents are entitled to joint legal decision-making or unsupervised parenting time and both parents reside in the state, at least sixty days’ advance written notice shall be provided to the other parent before a parent may do either of the following:
1. Relocate the child outside the state.
2. Relocate the child more than one hundred miles within the state.
B. The notice required by this section shall be made by certified mail, return receipt requested, or pursuant to the Arizona rules of family law procedure. The court shall sanction a parent who, without good cause, does not comply with the notification requirements of this subsection. The court may impose a sanction that will affect legal decision-making or parenting time only in accordance with the child’s best interests.
C. Within thirty days after notice is made the nonmoving parent may petition the court to prevent relocation of the child. After expiration of this time any petition or other application to prevent relocation of the child may be granted only on a showing of good cause. This subsection does not prohibit a parent who is seeking to relocate the child from petitioning the court for a hearing, on notice to the other parent, to determine the appropriateness of a relocation that may adversely affect the other parent’s legal decision-making or parenting time rights.
D. Subsection A of this section does not apply if provision for relocation of a child has been made by a court order or a written agreement of the parties that is dated within one year of the proposed relocation of the child.
E. Pending the determination by the court of a petition or application to prevent relocation of the child:
1. A parent with sole legal decision-making or a parent with joint legal decision-making and primary residence of a child who is required by circumstances of health or safety or employment of that parent or that parent’s spouse to relocate in less than sixty days after written notice has been given to the other parent may temporarily relocate with the child.
2. A parent who shares joint legal decision-making and substantially equal parenting time and who is required by circumstances of health or safety or employment of that parent or that parent’s spouse to relocate in less than sixty days after written notice has been given to the other parent may temporarily relocate with the child only if both parents execute a written agreement to permit relocation of the child.
F. The court shall determine whether to allow the parent to relocate the child in accordance with the child’s best interests. The burden of proving what is in the child’s best interests is on the parent who is seeking to relocate the child. To the extent practicable the court shall also make appropriate arrangements to ensure the continuation of a meaningful relationship between the child and both parents.
G. The court shall not deviate from a provision of any parenting plan or other written agreement by which the parents specifically have agreed to allow or prohibit relocation of the child unless the court finds that the provision is no longer in the child’s best interests. There is a rebuttable presumption that a provision from any parenting plan or other written agreement is in the child’s best interests.
H. In determining the child’s best interests the court shall consider all relevant factors including:
1. The factors prescribed under § 25-403.
2. Whether the relocation is being made or opposed in good faith and not to interfere with or to frustrate the relationship between the child and the other parent or the other parent’s right of access to the child.
3. The prospective advantage of the move for improving the general quality of life for the custodial parent or for the child.
4. The likelihood that the parent with whom the child will reside after the relocation will comply with parenting time orders.
5. Whether the relocation will allow a realistic opportunity for parenting time with each parent.
6. The extent to which moving or not moving will affect the emotional, physical or developmental needs of the child.
7. The motives of the parents and the validity of the reasons given for moving or opposing the move including the extent to which either parent may intend to gain a financial advantage regarding continuing child support obligations.
8. The potential effect of relocation on the child’s stability.
I. The court shall assess attorney fees and court costs against either parent if the court finds that the parent has unreasonably denied, restricted or interfered with court-ordered parenting time.
J. Pursuant to § 25-403.06, each parent is entitled to have access to prescription medication, documents and other information about the child unless the court finds that access would endanger seriously the child’s or a parent’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health.
Updated May 28, 2013
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