If one of the parties desires to move more than 100 miles from where they were living during the divorce, or decides to relocate outside of the State of Arizona, then the provisions of A.R.S. § 25-408 are triggered. This statute mandates that the moving parent give the non-moving parent 45 days of advance written notice of the proposed move by certified mail, return receipt requested. The notice should state where and when the party and the child are moving and the reasons for the move. The non-moving party then has 30 days within which to file a petition to oppose the move.
These hearings are typically called relocation hearings and are among the most difficult decisions that a court is called upon to make because there is generally little, if any, room for compromise. The relocation with the child either will or will not take place. It is important to realize that a court cannot prevent a parent from relocating but can prevent a parent from relocating with a child if the court decides that such a relocation will not be in the child’s best interests. Acceptable reasons for moving a long distance with a child may include a change of job for a parent or his or her new spouse, return to a family of origin or domestic violence. Each case is judged on its own merits after a full trial on the merits, including testimony and the admission of exhibits.
Most relocations will take substantial time away from the other, nonrelocating, parent. If a relocation petition is granted, the court must make appropriate arrangements to ensure the continuation of a meaningful relationship with both parents.
Relocation issues may be incorporated into a dissolution of marriage or legal separation proceeding. Relocations may also be heard in a post decree modification hearing. Occasionally, the court will hear a relocation issue in a temporary orders hearing, but these are unusual and seldom granted.
*The information in this message is general and should not substitute for the advice and counsel of a licensed attorney.