Divorce is seldom easy, and yours may have had its rough moments, especially when you and your spouse were making decisions about child custody. With all the stress of the process behind you, you may be realizing how many opportunities lay before you. Perhaps you are ready to make some big changes in your life.
If one of those changes involves moving with your children to a new part of Arizona or out of state completely, you should know that it's not as easy as packing up and transferring your kids to a new school. If you and your spouse share custody in any way, there are legal steps you must follow to avoid violating the custody order from the court.
What can I expect?
Of course, if your move is simply taking you a few blocks away, your main concern is to notify your co-parent of your new address. If you plan to leave the state or move more than the maximum required distance away, you must give your co-parent notice in writing by certified mail well before your intended move date. This is true whether you share any degree of legal or physical custody. After you have given notice, you may expect the following:
- The other parent will have a certain amount of time to respond if he or she intends to prevent you from moving with the children.
- During a court hearing, you will have the opportunity to present to the judge the reasons why you wish to relocate.
- You will have to show that you are not relocating simply to keep the children away from the other parent or to complicate the existing parenting plan.
- The judge will want to see how you intend to facilitate your ex-spouse's right to parenting time.
- You will have the burden to prove that the move is in the bests interests of the children.
Many factors go into determining if the move will benefit your children, including whether the relocation will improve their quality of life, such as providing them with better educational or social opportunities or moving them closer to extended family. Above all, the court will want to know that the children will have reasonable access to the other parent, if the judge determines that is in their best interests.
If your co-parent protests your plans to move with the children, you may have a battle on your hands. You would do well to prepare thoroughly with the help of an experienced family law attorney.