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Top 6 Relocation Factors that an Arizona Family Law Judge Considers

Categories: Family Law, Article

moving child out of state after divorce

It is common that divorced parents remarry or become involved in other relationships.  It is also common that divorced parents (or parents in the midst of a divorce) may want to leave Arizona – to “relocate” to another state along with their minor children.  There is a litany of reasons why a parent may seek relocation of minor children.  However, the question becomes whether or not the reasons the parent wishes to relocate are sufficient for the Arizona family law court to find that such a move is in the best interests of the minor children. 

What is Relocation 

Meaning removal of the minor children out of Arizona on a permanent basis - is not permitted, unless there is a written agreement between the parents or a court order granting the relocation to a specific state outside of Arizona.  The Arizona family law court considers what is in the best interest of the child and, in our experience, focuses on the following when they are presented with a relocation issue. 

  1. What is the motivation for the move?  For example, is one parent seeking to move solely to remove the children from the life of the other parent?
  2. Where is the proposed new geographic location?  Is the new location close to Arizona?  Is it a short drive or a long flight?  How expensive will travel costs be for the parents?  Are they moving from a city to a rural location?  How good/bad are the schools in the new locale?  How might it impact the children’s quality of life?  For example, will the children be forced to spend summer in Arizona and winter in Alaska?
  3. What is the current relationship between the parents and the children?  Is there an already existing fractured relationship?  Have the parents effectively and consistently been exercising a 50/50 parenting plan?  Will the move have a major impact on the existing relationship? 
  4. If this is an employment change, has or could the parent seeking relocation have found a similar job locally?  Did the parent seeking relocation even attempt to find suitable employment locally? Are their similar local employment opportunities for the parent? 
  5. What will be the impact on parenting time for parent in Arizona?  What is the distance and travel difficulties?  Is the parent seeking relocation likely to comply with parenting time orders once they leave Arizona?  Is this a strategy to change jurisdiction for future family law issues?
  6. What are the children’s Arizona connections?  How long have they lived in Arizona?    How old are the children?  How long have they lived in same area?  Do they play sports or have other long established extra-curricular activities in Arizona? How well are the children performing at their current school?  How many friends do they have in Arizona?  In other words, what will be the impact on the emotional, physical and developmental needs of the children if they leave Arizona?

Conclusion

The bottom line is that relocation cases are daunting and there are many factors which the family law court will take into account when making a determination as to whether or not the relocation will be allowed.  Keep in mind at all times that the Court will be looking to the evidence and the testimony to determine whether the relocation is the best interests of the minor children – NOT the parent seeking to relocate!  Relocation cases are often highly contested and can be a very expensive legal proceeding.  Before engaging in this type of litigation you should consult an experienced and highly-skilled family law attorney to determine whether this hard-fought battle has any chance of success given the surrounding facts and circumstances.  Remember, although moving to Honolulu for your dream job and dream salary may mean paradise to you, the Court will examine the impact of this move upon your former spouse and the minor children more than your desire to leave the Grand Canyon State.        


About the author: Laurence Hirsch is a family law attorney at the Phoenix law firm of Jaburg Wilk. He has expertise representing high net worth individuals who have closely held businesses in their marital community.   He can be reached at 602.248.1000 or info@jaburgwilk.com 

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