Relocation and the Best Interests of an Arizonan Child

People relocate for many reasons: health concerns, marriage, moving closer to family or employment opportunities. However, for a parent with joint or sole custody of a child, moving a significant distance may be complicated by court orders regarding the other parent's parenting time rights.

The state of Arizona aims to protect a child's mental, emotional, moral and physical health by granting both parents frequent and continuing contact with the child. To ensure such, Arizona requires 60 days written notice to the other parent before moving a child outside of Arizona or more than 100 miles from their current location within Arizona.

The other parent can contest moving the child within the first 30 days of receiving notice. After 30 days, any opposition to relocating the child must show good cause. Nevertheless, any decision by the court must ultimately be in the best interest of the child. The parent asking the court to allow relocation bears the burden of proving that moving is in the child's best interest.

Factors to Consider

Arizona law requires courts to consider the totality of the circumstances in determining a child's best interests, including the following eight factors:

  • The reasons for the original custody arrangement
  • Whether each parent is acting in good faith and not trying to interfere with the other parent's relationship or time with the child
  • The prospects of the move improving the child or the custodial parent's quality of life
  • The chances the custodial parent will comply with parenting time orders after the relocation
  • Whether the relocation will allow each parent time with the child
  • The effect moving or not moving would have on the child's emotional, physical or developmental needs
  • Each parents' motives for moving or opposing the move (including on-going child support payments)
  • The move's potential effect on the child's stability

Even if the relocation of a child is allowed, Arizona law requires the court to do its best to foster an on-going, "meaningful relationship between the child and both parents." Again, the goal is to protect each child's mental, emotional, moral and physical health and a meaningful relationship with each parent is the ideal circumstance for such.

If you are considering relocating with your child or your child's other parent has indicated that intent, contact an experienced family law attorney to discuss your situation and your rights.