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Can a co-parent move out of Arizona with their children?

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2024 | Divorce

Parents in Arizona often have a hard time adjusting to shared custody arrangements. It can be difficult to spend entire days or weekends separated from one’s children and to frequently see a former romantic partner at custody exchanges.

However hard it may be for the adults, having both parents spend as much time as possible with the children is usually the best arrangement for families when parents separate or divorce. Most parents eventually adjust to their new arrangements, and children can thrive when cooperative co-parenting becomes the new norm for the household.

Unfortunately, after parents have become acclimated to their new arrangements, everything might eventually change again. The other parents might suddenly announce that they have gotten engaged to someone who lives in California or received a job offer on the other side of the state. Can one co-parent decide to move away when they’re subject to a shared custody order in Arizona?

Advance notice is necessary before moving

Unless someone has sole physical and legal custody of their children, they typically cannot move without involving the other parent. Pre-approval from the other parent or the courts is frequently a requirement for any significant relocation.

If the move could take the children out of Arizona or more than 100 miles away from where they currently live, the parent proposing the relocation must negotiate the matter at least 45 days ahead of time. The bigger the distance and the greater the impact that the move might have on custody arrangements, the more scrutiny a family law judge might apply when reviewing someone’s relocation request.

Arizona family law judges have the ability to deny the request if they believe it is not in the best interests of the children or an attempt to alienate one parent from the children. A parent opposing a move-away request may need to refer to threatening text messages or a history of custodial interference as they prepare their response for their hearing and family court.

A review of both state statutes and the custody order that the parents agreed upon previously could help someone determine the best response when their co-parent proposes a relocation that could prevent them from spending time with their children or if their own relocation becomes necessary. Understanding how the Arizona family courts handle contested custody matters can help parents better utilize their legal parental rights.