Proposed Arizona bill would require ex’s approval to relocate child

The transition from married parent to a divorced parent can sometimes be difficult to manage. Part of this process is for both parents to find a home in which to live. If divorced parents have joint custody or one parent has custody and the other visitation rights, then ideally the exes will live close enough to make this feasible and allow both parents to live with or visit a child according to the divorce agreement.

Life, unfortunately, is not always that simple. Finances, jobs, family circumstances and other life events may make it more reasonable for a parent to move a significant distance away from his or her ex-spouse. Such complications can make it difficult to comply with a divorced couple's custody and visitation plan.

In order to for a divorced parent in Arizona to move, an ex needs to notify the other parent with legal decision-making authority 60 days in advance of the move if the move is more than 100 miles away. Now, a proposed bill that recently passed in the Arizona Senate would require an ex's approval no matter the distance traveled. The non-moving parent would have 20 days to file an objection with the court. At that point, the parent seeking to move would have the burden of proof to show that it was in the best interests of the child to move and would need to obtain a court decree in order to relocate.

The measure passed the state senate 17-12 and is currently in the house for consideration. An amendment added to the bill would make moves of two miles or less "inconsequential" and would be exempted from the requirement to notify the ex-spouse parent.

Best interests of the child

A family law court will base its custody decisions on the best interests of the child. This standard encompasses a wide variety of factors, including:

The child's wishes regarding custody, as long as the child is old and capable enough to understand his or her decision

•  Each parent's wishes

•  The interactions between parents and child

•  The child's adjustment needs to his or her home life, school and the surrounding community

•  Which parent is more likely to allow visitation to or interaction with the other parent

•  The mental and physical health of the parents and child

The court uses these factors, and any other relevant information, to determine both the original custody plan and any modifications to that plan made later.

Moving away or modifying a child custody plan

It is possible to modify a child custody plan in Arizona. However, as with original custody determinations, many factors may play a role in the best interests of the child. Divorced parents seeking to relocate should contact an experienced family law attorney to discuss their legal options and present the best possible case to the court.