Long-Distance Parenting Guidelines in Arizona
When it comes to establishing parenting plans and parenting time, courts will always rule in the best interests of the child. However, parents who live more than 100 miles apart from each other, or who live in different states, will need to establish a long-distance parenting time schedule.
Arizona law only permits long-distance moves if it is in the best interest of the child involved, per A.R.S. 25-408. Every family’s case is unique. Judges will take all facts into consideration when determining what is best for the child when it comes to relocation and long-distance parenting time.
Long-distance schedules are generally recommended to include at least four blocks of parenting time with the non-custodial parent per year. These would typically occur during summer, winter, and spring breaks from school, as well as one additional block of time. If parents live within a four-hour driving distance from each other, parenting time may also include additional weekend time.
In Mohave County, Arizona, it is suggested that the non-custodial parent receive eight days of parenting time per month, but not more than five consecutive days for children under the age of three. Parenting time with the non-custodial parent should only occur during school days if the parent is able to ensure they still attend school as normal. Mohave County also recommends additional extended visits in the following situations:
- Children two years and younger – Two visits of two weeks in length, separated by at least eight weeks.
- Children ages three to five – One additional visit of four weeks in length.
- Children age six and older – One additional visit of eight weeks in length.
Arizona courts recommend the following when it comes to long-distance travelling:
- Parents should be willing to allow “virtual visits” with each other regardless of who currently holds the parenting time via such means as video chat, email, text, and phone.
- Children under age eight should not fly alone. If this is impossible to avoid, flights should be nonstop between major cities.
- Parents should have strong communication when it comes to exchanges to prevent delays when the child is being exchanged between parents or is arriving at their new destination.
- Ideally, parents should be willing to allow drop-in visits as the opportunity arises, such as the non-custodial parent being in town on a business trip during unscheduled parenting time.
- If one parent lives abroad, parents should ensure that the child’s passport and visa are up to date and that international requirements for travel are being met (such as needing a consent letter to cross a national border).
Challenges of Long-Distance Parenting
Establishing parenting time during the holidays may become increasingly challenging as children age and different traditions develop within each side of the family. Parents should maintain strong communication to provide holiday time in a manner that best provides for the child’s needs.
Long-distance parenting also comes with added cost. While child support guidelines will cover travel, there can be greater expense for the relocating parent when the move is voluntary. Parents should be prepared to come to an agreement as to how travel costs will be divided and the manner in which travel will occur. In some cases, it is beneficial for the non-custodial parent to travel to the child, rather than having the child travel to the parent.
Rideout Law Group handles cases throughout the entire state of Arizona, with offices located in Scottsdale and Lake Havasu City. Our attorneys are experienced in handling cases involving long-distance parenting time. For a free consultation, call 480-584-3328.