Most parents want whatever is best for their children, ahead of their own needs. However, if you're a parent who decides to divorce or to end your relationship, your definition of what is best for your kids may differ from your ex's. You might even find it difficult to put your own personal issues with your ex aside.
If you choose to move out of state, it may be for a valid reason – you're relocating for work, for example. However, if your ex is unable, unwilling or unwelcome to move, it might negatively affect the relationship he or she has with your child and your current custody order. Courts may allow relocating a child, but it depends on several factors.
Is the move in good faith and for a legitimate reason?
The judge will decide whether the parent who wants to move is doing so in good faith - is the moving parent trying to harm the relationship between the child and the other parent? The judge will also consider the reason for the move – is the moving parent doing so legitimately, perhaps for remarriage or a job opportunity? If the answer to the first question is "yes" and the answer to the second question is "no", a relocation request may get rejected.
What if the attempted relocation appears to be in bad faith?
There are several reasons a court may allow or forbid a parent's request to move a child. For example, if the court thinks that one spouse wants to retaliate against the other by moving his or her child away, it is unlikely the court will grant the move. Conversely, if the non-custodial parent didn't honor his or her existing visitation rights or has been an absent parent, the court may see fit to allow a move.
Would moving be in the best interests of the child?
Sometimes, relocating the child with one parent out of state actually is what is best for the child. If the moving parent is the primary caregiver, it may make sense to keep the child with him or her. The courts will also take into account what the wishes of the child and each parent are regarding a potential move.
Courts also determine if there will be a significant and negative effect on visitation for the other parent. If they decide that a change to an existing visitation and custody arrangement is not in the child's best interests, the relocation request will not be approved.
Where can you turn for help and support?
If you're a parent here in Arizona and you're thinking about moving with your child out of state and away from your ex, or if your ex is trying to relocate your child with him or her, you'll likely face several issues. Handling visitation, transportation costs and possible modifications to existing custody orders can be daunting challenges, even when the reasons for relocating are valid. Consulting with an experienced attorney is often the first step toward obtaining the best possible outcome for both you and your children.