SAYING SAYONARA! AZ’s Rules on Relocation
Written by: Stefano Ceroni
Whether relocation arises during the initial divorce action or as part of a modification proceeding after divorce, when it comes to this issue in the state of Arizona, parties always ask us “if” and “when” they are required to tell the ex “Sayonara, I’m leaving with the kids.”
As surprising as it may sound, many of the child custody cases in Arizona deal with the issue of child relocation at one point or another.
Normally, the party seeking relocation has a very difficult burden to overcome before the Court will give approval to relocate with a child. If, however, the parties relocated from another state to Arizona, the scales are inherently a little more balanced.
Well, one of the biggest factors a Court considers when dealing with a petition for relocation is this:
The prospective advantage of the move for improving the general quality of life for the custodial parent or for the child. (Advantages like surrounding family members, friends and a familiarity with the new location are all likely to be viewed as potential benefits by the Court.)
So, by way of example, if you only relocated to Arizona within the last few years and your entire extended family still resides in Iowa (and you or your soon-to-be ex is looking to return to Iowa with the children following your divorce), there are some good reasons for the judge to consider the request for relocation. BE FOREWARNED: Having some good reasons doesn’t necessarily mean you (or your ex) WILL be allowed to relocate because there are several strong reasons why your child[ren] should not be allowed to relocate, as well: The #1 reason is the loss of parenting time that will be suffered by the parent remaining in Arizona.
Either way, before you can even begin dreaming of your move back home, there are a few requirements you should know if you are seeking to relocate with the children.
According to A.R.S section 25-408, if both parents are entitled to joint legal decision-making OR unsupervised parenting time and both parents reside in Arizona, the party seeking relocation MUST provide at least sixty (60) days’ advance written notice to the other parent (by certified mail…return receipt requested) before the requesting parent may either:
- Relocate the child out of the state of Arizona; or
- Relocate the child more than 100 miles from his or her current residence within the state of Arizona.
In other words, unless the party seeking relocation has sole legal decision-making authority AND the non-moving party has only “supervised” parenting time rights, proper notice must be given and it must be given sixty (60) days prior to relocation.
So, before you start humming John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane”, remember, you must first provide the other parent with proper notice of your desire to say “SAYONARA ARIZONA.” Otherwise, you can bet your butt your child[ren] will be on the next available return flight.