Protecting Parental Rights and Child’s Best Interests in Relocation
In matters of child custody and relocation, A.R.S. 25-408 establishes clear guidelines for parental relocation, notice requirements, and legal proceedings. It plays a vital role in safeguarding the rights of both parents and prioritizing the best interests of the child.
Notice and Relocation: Parents with joint legal decision-making or parenting time rights must adhere to stringent notification rules if they are considering relocating. Before moving a child out of state or more than one hundred miles within Arizona, they must provide at least 45 days’ advance written notice to the other parent. This notice requirement ensures that both parents have ample time to assess the proposed relocation and its potential impact on the child’s life.
The court may impose sanctions on a parent who fails to provide proper notice without good cause, but these sanctions will be based on the child’s best interests.
Preventing Relocation: After receiving notice, the non-moving parent has thirty days to petition the court to prevent the relocation. Beyond this timeframe, a petition to halt the move may only succeed upon a showing of good cause. This provision does not prohibit parents from seeking court hearings to determine the appropriateness of a relocation’s impact on the other parent’s rights.
A.R.S. 25-408 acknowledges exceptions to these rules. If relocation plans are already outlined in a court order or a written agreement dated within a year of the proposed move, the statute’s requirements do not apply.
Continuation of Court Orders: Even in cases of relocation, all parties must continue to adhere to existing court orders unless the court specifies otherwise. This ensures stability for the child despite the distance moved or notification requirements.
Temporary Relocation: In certain circumstances, a parent may temporarily relocate with the child pending a court decision. However, this relocation must be due to health, safety, employment, or eviction issues. A parent sharing joint legal decision-making and parenting time must obtain a written agreement from the other parent for temporary relocation.
Determining Best Interests: The court’s primary concern in relocation cases is the child’s best interests. The burden of proof falls on the parent requesting relocation. The court must make arrangements to maintain a meaningful relationship between the child and both parents, to the extent practicable.
Preserving Agreements: The court cannot deviate from a provision in a parenting plan or other written agreement unless it no longer serves the child’s best interests. A rebuttable presumption exists that such provisions are in the child’s best interests.
Consideration of Factors: When determining the child’s best interests, the court evaluates various factors. These factors encompass the child’s emotional, physical, and developmental needs, the motives of the parents, and the potential effect of relocation on stability.
Enforcement of Parenting Time: A.R.S. 25-408 also reinforces the importance of court-ordered parenting time by imposing attorney fees and court costs on parents unreasonably denying, restricting, or interfering with such time.
Access to Information: The statute ensures that both parents have access to essential information about the child, including prescription medication, documents, and other relevant records, unless the court deems access harmful to the child or a parent’s well-being.
If you are considering relocating with your child for which you have legal decision-making or parenting time rights, seek out a family law attorney at Rideout Law Group to help you stay within your legal parameters and protect the best interests of your child.
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 child custody and relocation cases. For a free consultation, call 480-584-3328.