It’s important for children to have stability in their lives, and you want to be with them as much as possible when you have parenting time. If you’re a co-parent and you’re considering relocating to a different area such as county or state with your child(ren), there are several important things you should be aware of:
If you’re the custodial parent, with sole legal decision-making rights: In most cases, courts will not prevent parents from relocating unless they find that it is not in the best interest of the children. If the other parent objects to the children moving, it is possible to settle this matter at mediation, though be aware that this is a highly contested issue and may very well be left for a judge to decide whether moving is in the best interest of the child(ren).
If you share joint legal custody — meaning you both have the right to make major decisions about your child’s upbringing — then your co-parent has an equal position in the determination of moving your children out of county or state. Arizona requires sufficient notice to be given to the non-moving parent so that they have time to file their motion in court to modify the parenting plan requesting that the children be ordered to stay. When a parent relocates without the children, it can cause separation and yet, there are ways to make up for the lost time as detailed more below. The moving parent would return for visits and/or have the children visit them at their new home on vacations, holidays and school breaks.
Consideration of the child’s best interests: When making a decision about relocating, it is imperative to first consider what’s in the best interests of your child(ren). This may include factors such as the child’s relationship with each parent, their education and curriculum in the school they have been attending, or will be attending in the new state, their social life with friends, or with new friends, their activities after school, with their church, with the neighbors, and local family or with extended family in the new state. All of these factors are woven together to show the court what you believe is best for the children to stay or to move. Many factors are considered and the most important of all is the impact of the relationship the children will have going forward with each parent.
The impact on school: If you’re moving to a different school district, it’s important to consider how the change will affect your child’s education. This includes the quality of the new school, the transportation arrangements, the new teachers, the available activities, and the impact on the child’s relationships with previous friends and teachers.
Communication with the other parent: Communication is key when it comes to relocating with a child. You’ll need to work together with the other parent to ensure that the transition is as smooth as possible for your child.
Modifying custody or visitation agreements: If both parents can agree on the move and to a new arrangement that allows each parent a fair share of parenting time, they should sign a stipulated written agreement requesting the court to sign as a final order. If an agreement cannot be reached amicably, one parent can petition the court for permission to relocate and then take the case to trial for the judge to make the ruling and determine what is in the children’s best interests.
In most cases, the easiest way for a custodial parent to relocate with children after divorce is for both parents to agree to the move. Ultimately, if it’s determined that the move is in the child’s best interest, a new court order will be created by the court or as ordered by the court to be prepared by the attorneys, with an updated custody including legal decision-making and parenting time arrangement.
It’s important to consult with an attorney or a qualified mediator to understand the legal implications of relocating with a child. They can help you navigate the process and ensure that your rights and your child’s best interests are protected.
McMurdie Law & Mediation is dedicated to helping develop resolutions that are equitable to all parties and focused on the best interests of the children. Call McMurdie Law & Mediation today at 480-777-5500 today to schedule a consultation.