Relocation cases are some of the most difficult for judges to decide. In making a decision, the court has to evaluate (a) the reasons one parent wishes to relocate with the children against (b) the effect that relocation would have on the relationships between the children and the remaining parent. Because of the importance placed upon maintaining the bond between parents and children, Arizona has enacted procedural requirements in relocation cases.
The general rule is that the individual wanting to relocate with the children must provide at least 60 days prior written notice to the other parent. The notice must be provided by certified mail, return receipt requested. If the party responding to the request for relocation does not file a petition to prevent relocation within 30 days, a later request to prevent relocation will only be granted for good cause. Certain exceptions exist to the general rule (explained above) that might allow a parent to relocate with less than 60 days notice for reasons of health, safety or employment.
In relocation cases, the burden of proof is on the parent who wants to relocate. In other words, the parent who wants to move must convince the judge that relocation is in the best interests of the children.
In deciding a relocation case, the court will consider a number of factors which are set forth in Arizona’s custody statutes and within the relocation statute itself. In some cases, parents relocate with children without following the rules. In these cases, parents are often ordered to bring the children back to Arizona.
This is regardless of the fact that the parent may already be settled in a new location. Furthermore, the fact that a parent moved the children without following the rules could impact the judge’s decision-making. Especially regarding whether joint legal decision-making is in the best interest of the children. Prior to moving away with your children, consult the statute, follow the rules and preferably, talk to an attorney.
Additionally, if you and your ex-partner share children and were never married, the relocation statute does not directly apply to your situation. Despite this fact, many judges will still consider your case a “relocation” case. These types of cases have to be handled with care, as certain technicalities could negatively impact your matter whether you are the person seeking to prevent relocation or the person wanting to relocate.