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May 29, 2021

Divorce, Moving, and Child Custody: Does Moving During a Divorce Matter in Arizona?

Child Custody

Divorce Moving
Divorce, Moving, and Child Custody: Does Moving During a Divorce Matter in Arizona?

 Logistically, monetarily, or practically, it may be difficult to imagine staying where you have been living with your husband or wife, especially if the relationship has become fraught and tense. In divorce, the issue that often arises is whether or not you should move out of the area while the divorce is happening in the courts. Moving might be your best option for many reasons. You may want to move within Arizona or outside of it to go see friends or family elsewhere or take a new job.

The situation becomes more complicated when children are involved in terms of child custody decisions.

Can I move out of the state of Arizona while my divorce is happening?

 If you were living in Arizona when you decided to end your marriage, then that is where you should be filing for divorce (technically called a “dissolution of marriage”). Importantly, even if you leave Arizona, the state keeps jurisdiction over you. This means that because the divorce case was filed there, then the court can legally tell you to come back to Arizona to deal with the divorce there.

Will moving make divorce harder?

In some respects, it can be harder. For instance, if you move out of Arizona, then you will likely have to come back to the state in order to deal with the divorce, as explained above. This could get expensive, such as having to fly in and out of Arizona for hearings during the proceedings. It is up to you to decide what works best for you personally.

Is child custody an issue in this?

 If a child has lived in a state for at least six months, then the child is within the jurisdiction of that state. So, if your child has lived in Arizona for at least that time, then Arizona has jurisdiction to make custody orders. Generally, if one parent moves, this will be very significant for child custody purposes. One important issue is whether the parent that is relocating wants to take the child with them.

The Arizona court will need to make a decision about whether the fact that the relocating parent is taking the child away will harm that child’s relationship with the parent that is staying. The judge will decide what is in the child’s best interest by considering many different factors.

These factors include:

  1.  the mental and physical health of the parents,
  2.  the child’s relationship with each of the parents,
  3.  the level of stability each parent can provide,
  4.  histories of domestic violence or child abuse (if any), and
  5.  the child’s level of adjustment to the community and home.

The objective of the judge in this process is to build a scenario that protects the child and allows for his or her emotional and physical needs to be supported despite the parents splitting up. All of these factors go into the decision between joint or sole custody. It can sometimes be beneficial to making a case that a parent can relocate if they have been deemed the custodial parent (i.e., awarded sole custody). With this in mind, the court will decide whether a parent can move. The focus is on how the move would affect the child’s wellbeing.

The process for deciding this involves the submission of evidence and the holding of hearings to determine whether the relocation should be legally permitted. In addition, parents, friends, relatives, and others will be allowed to give live testimony to the court pertaining to the situation, the child’s interests, and what should be done regarding relocation and custody.

As part of this, the judge will look into, among other factors, why the parent is moving, whether the move is just to interfere with the other parent’s ability to see the child or is in good faith, and whether the move will be good for the child’s quality of life. Altogether, the court will be trying to figure out whether the move will be beneficial to the child; above all, it is about the child’s best interests, not the parents.

At Reppucci & Roeder, we know how stressful divorce and custody are, and we’re here to help.

 Having an attorney present to explain the intricacies of the legal proceedings, as well as to negotiate and advocate on your behalf, is incredibly important, especially in the protracted and intense context of family-based matters like custody.

We want what is best for you and your child and will do all we can to ensure that is what the court finds too. Contact us today to get experienced attorneys on your side every step of the way. Please contact us today at (480) 418-6420 for a free consultation.

 

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