A divorce can be an emotionally charged and trying time, and now that it is over, perhaps you or your ex-spouse wants to relocate to another state to start a new life. However, when you have children, relocating can create a new host of challenges. Whether you are looking to relocate or stop a parent with joint custody from relocating with your child, we have the legal knowledge to work with the courts and give you the best chance of securing the outcome you want.
What Is “Relocation?”
Under Arizona law, relocation is defined as moving more than 100 miles within a state or moving to another state or country entirely. When parents share joint custody and equal legal rights of the child, the relocating parent must provide the other with at least 60 days’ notice in advance of the move. If the other parent does not agree to the relocation, he or she has 30 days to contest it with the courts.
If a parent has sole custody or primary physical custody of the child, it is not necessary to provide advance notice. If the parents share physical custody, you cannot relocate without a hearing.
How the Courts Decide on Relocation
In the case of joint custody, the courts assume regular visitation and contact from both parents is in the best interest of the child. Therefore, if a non-relocating parent contests a move, the relocating parent must provide what the court calls “clear and convincing evidence” that the move is in the best interest of the child. Under Arizona law, there are a certain set of considerations that the courts will take into account when making a decision:
- The extent of the children’s relationships to their parents and other members of the extended family/friends
- How the child will acclimate to his or her surroundings
- The health of each party involved – both parents and children
- If the parents are cooperative with one another and the courts
- The preferences of the children, if they are old enough or if applicable
If one parent acts negatively, lashes out or is not cooperative in the hearings, the courts will take this into account. In deciding whether or not to grant relocation in the presence of a contest, the courts will also decide whether the move is merited based on the following criteria:
- If the move is in the child/children’s best interest
- If the relocation is in good faith and not intended to be spiteful to other parent
- If the relocating parent is likely to comply with any additional court orders regarding the other parent’s visitation
- If both parents will still have an ability to reasonably play a part in the child’s rearing
- If relocating will benefit the child
Finding the Right Legal Team
Relocation proceedings are extremely time-sensitive; missing a deadline could make or break your case. If you are searching for a relocation attorney, choose someone who knows the law and will fight for the best interest of you and your child. At Gillespie, Shields, Durrant & Goldfarb, we have been practicing relocation law for over three decades. We know how to tirelessly fight for your parental rights and can provide counsel that will lead you to the outcome you are looking for.
Retaining the advice of an expert in these types of cases is vital. If you fail to follow procedure, even mistakenly, you could lose custody of your children altogether. We can represent your interests and help you follow proper protocols, maximizing your chances of getting what you deserve. For a free initial consultation with experienced attorneys, contact our office today.