Divorce attorneys are frequently asked whether or not children can be moved to another state and why one of the parents cannot simply move their kids without going to court or consulting the other parent. It's not as easy as just packing up and moving; and it is very likely that the intervention of the Arizona family law courts will be necessary.
Many times, couples remarry or become involved in another relationship and one party receives an out of state job offer or wants to move from Arizona to be closer to family or friends. There is no difference if a parent has remarried or not, the key factor is that a spouse wants to remove their children from the State of Arizona – which is not permitted absent an agreement between the parents. If the other parent opposes that relocation, it often leads to a contentious battle regarding where the children will primarily reside on a going forward basis.
In Arizona, the original parenting agreement or divorce decree will apply if it has not been amended. If a parent has sole decision-making authority and the majority of parenting time, they can file their Petition for Relocation and may have an advantage in the litigation. However, if the parents have equal parenting time and joint decision-making authority, relocation becomes much more difficult as it is more likely than not that the Court will not consider a relocation to be in the best interests of the minor children. Keep in mind that the Court's focus in a relocation matter is not the best interests of either of the parents; but rather whether the relocation serves the best interests of the minor children.
If a relocation of the minor children is agreed upon or granted by the Court, ancillary issues may develop. One example is the division of travel expenses between the parents, which can become very expensive especially in cases where the children are young and require one of the parents to travel with the children for the exchange. Those expenses are not automatically the burden of the parent who is relocating. However, these costs may be considered in child support calculations.
While no parent wants to face their child living in another state, technology makes it easier to stay connected and to effectively co-parent. Each parent needs to make it a priority that the child regularly communicates with the other parent.
The bottom line is that relocation cases are daunting. Seeking relocation can be a very expensive endeavor and you should consult with an experienced and highly-skilled domestic relations attorney prior to engaging in what is sure to be a hard-fought battle. Without the correct guidance, you stand a chance of watching your children move to another state or possibly starting a court proceeding wherein there is very little chance of success.