Arizona Divorce And Parental Relocation: How Does It Affect Custody?

Going through a divorce can be a challenging and complicated process, especially if children are involved. The legal implications of parental relocation on child custody in Arizona is one of the most common and significant issues that arise during divorce proceedings. In this article, we will explore how parental relocation affects child custody in Arizona and provide guidance for divorcing parents.

Understanding Parental Relocation In Arizona

Parental relocation occurs when one parent desires to move out of the state or a significant distance from their current residence after divorce. This move directly impacts child custody arrangements, potentially resulting in the non-moving parent losing parenting time with their child.

Parental relocation laws in Arizona are governed by Arizona Revised Statutes, section 25-408, which can be complex. According to this statute, a parent who intends to relocate out of the state or more than 100 miles away from their current residence must provide written notice of their proposed move to the other parent at least 60 days prior to the planned relocation.

Impact On Child Custody

Once the relocating parent provides notice of their intended move, the non-moving parent has the right to object to the relocation. Objecting requires filing an objection with the court, which then schedules a hearing to determine the child’s best interests in relation to the proposed relocation.

The court’s determination of custody and parenting time is based on the child’s best interests. Therefore, the relocating parent must present convincing evidence to demonstrate that the move is in the child’s best interests. If the judge finds that the relocation could have a negative impact on the child, the request for relocation may be denied.

In cases where the court allows the parent to move, the court will revisit and modify the parenting plan accordingly. This typically results in increased parenting time for the non-moving or non-relocating parent during school breaks, extended weekends, holidays, and provisions for telephone and video calls.

Factors Considered By The Court

Several factors are considered by the court to determine the child’s best interests when evaluating a proposed relocation:

The motive behind the relocation

The court examines the reasons for the parent’s desire to relocate, including employment opportunities, access to healthcare resources, and educational prospects. This assessment helps determine whether the relocation is based on legitimate reasons or may adversely affect the child.

The child’s age and specific needs

The court takes into account the child’s age, physical requirements, educational needs, and emotional well-being when assessing the potential benefits or disadvantages of the relocation. If the child requires specialized medical care, for example, the court may reject the parent’s relocation request.

The impact on the child’s relationship with the non-moving parent

The court carefully considers how the proposed relocation would impact the relationship between the child and the non-moving parent, including the frequency and quality of visitation. If the relocation request significantly limits the non-moving parent’s parenting time, the court may refuse the request.

The availability of alternative arrangements

The court examines whether alternative arrangements exist that could maintain the non-moving parent’s relationship with the child. For instance, if the relocating parent is moving to a nearby city, the court might require more frequent visits by the non-moving parent.

The effect on the child’s educational opportunities

The court assesses how the proposed relocation would affect the child’s educational prospects and ability to attend school. If the move results in a decrease in academic opportunities for the child, the court may deny the relocation request.


Parental relocation significantly impacts child custody arrangements in Arizona. It is crucial for parents who wish to relocate or object to a relocation to comply with state laws and seek guidance from an experienced family law attorney. By doing so, parents can ensure that the relocation request is handled fairly and that the outcome aligns with the child’s best interests.

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