Arizona Child Relocation Laws
Child Relocation Laws in Arizona
It is important to have a complete understanding of the Arizona child relocation laws if you either want to move with your child or intend to prevent the other parent from moving with your child. In Arizona, relocation a child in Arizona when there is a written agreement or court order between two parents (both residing in the state of Arizona), is regulated by Arizona Revised Statute 25-408. In most cases, application of this statute’s regulations becomes necessary when one parent wishes to relocate with the minor child out of state.
In some cases, such as Thompson v. Thompson, the statute can be cited in relation to relocation within the state of Arizona. In regards to the marriage of Roger E. Thompson (Petitioner/Appellant) and Tanya F. Thompson (Respondent/Appellee), under Arizona Revised Statute 25-408, a parent granted joint custody and legal decision making or parenting time is granted the right to a minimum of 60 days of advanced notice prior to a relocation of the minor child by the other parent “more than 100 miles within the state.”
On appeal, it becomes necessary to discuss and interpret what is intended by the portion of the statute mandating that it applies to in-state moves “more than 100 miles.” A discussion must ensue as to how this distance should be measured. The Arizona Court of Appeals determines that: a) the miles of a previously court approved and completed relocation of the child may not be considered when determining whether a new relocation within the state is more than 100 miles and b) the 100 mile condition should be measured from the location of the relocating parent/child’s physical location as of the date of the court order/agreement designating joint custody/parenting time to both parents.
Application of A.R.S. 25-408 as Applicable to Thompson v. Thompson: In the cases of Thompson v. Thompson, Mother was granted her request to move to Show Low at the same hearing for temporary orders that granted custody of the children to Mother and visitation to the Father. The mother then moved from Alpine to Show Low as granted by the court.
In May 2005, the court entered a divorce decree awarding sole legal custody of the children to Mother and liberal visitation to the Father. Over a year later, Mother notified the court of her intention to move from Show Low to Payson, Arizona in order to start a full-time position. The approximate distance of the move from Show Low to Payson, Arizona is 90 miles.
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Objection to a Request to Relocate a Child in Arizona
Father objected to the move, arguing that the move exceeded the limitations presented by A.R.S. 25-408 because Payson is approximately 138 miles from Eagar (Father’s place of residence). He petitioned the court to prevent the relocation of the children with Mother. The court denied Father’s request as the distance of the move from Show Low to Payson is 90 miles, less than the 100-mile limitation per Arizona Statute. Father moved for a new trial presenting two arguments:
- That the distance of Mother’s currently proposed move from Show Low to Payson should be added to the distance of her previous move (granted by temporary orders prior to the final divorce decree) from Eagar to Show Low; and
- That the distance of the move should be calculated from his residence in Eagar to the proposed relocation to Payson – not from Mother’s current location to her proposed new location.
The trial court denied the motion, finding that the first move was separate and distinct from the second and that the starting point to measure the distance of the move would be from Show Low as that is the location where the children were residing. Interpreting A.R.S. 25-408 as pertaining to relocating, Father presents the same arguments. The Arizona Court of Appeals looked to the meaning of the statute through the interpretation of its plain language. As such, A.R.S. 25-408(B) is not triggered by a written agreement or court order is in place regarding custody/parenting time between the two parties.
Yet subsection B becomes inapplicable if provisions have been made for relocation of a child through a court order that is dated within one year of the relocation of the child (as per A.R.S. 25-408(E). Subsection E makes Subsection B inapplicable in regards to this particular argument from Father in Thompson v. Thompson.
When Subsection E exempts a move from Subsection B, the miles of the exempted move is not included within the 100 mile limitation presented in Subsection B. Father’s also raised questions of interpretation when he argued that the distance of the move should be measured from his own residence in Eagar rather than from the Mother’s residence in Show Low.
The distance of the Proposed Relocation of a Child in Arizona
Section 25-408(B) does not designate a starting point for measuring the distance of the move when relocating the children. As the statute is silent regarding this issue, The Arizona Court of Appeals considered the intended purpose and spirit of the legislation as well as the effects and consequences. It is understood that the intention of the legislation is, in cases where joint custody/parenting is granted, that one parent cannot frustrate the parenting time/custody of the other parent by relocating with the children.
At the same time, the legislation is intended to give parents (granted joint custody/parenting time) with flexibility regarding where they live. It is an attempt to balance the competing interests that exist in this situation. As such, The Arizona Court of Appeals finds that the distance of the move should be measured from Show Low, Mother’s current residence, and the residence of both Mother and children at the time that the decree was entered by the court.
The distance from Show Low to Payson is approximately 90 miles – within range of the 100-mile limitation imposed by the statute for the relocation of a child in the state of Arizona. Findings of The Arizona Court of Appeals: The Arizona Court of Appeals affirms the Superior Court’s determination that Section 25-408(B) is inapplicable in the case of Mother’s move from Show Low to Payson in the case of Thompson v. Thompson.
Chris Hildebrand wrote this article to ensure everyone has access to information about family law in Arizona. Chris is a divorce and family law attorney at Hildebrand Law, PC. He has over 24 years of Arizona family law experience and has received multiple awards, including US News and World Report “Top Arizona Divorce Attorneys”, Phoenix Magazine “Top Divorce Law Firms”, and Arizona Foothills Magazine “Best of the Valley” award. He believes the policies and procedures he uses to get his clients through a divorce should all be guided by the principles of honesty, integrity, and, quite frankly, actually caring about what his clients are going through in a divorce or family law case. In short, his practice is defined by the success of his clients. He also manages all of the other attorneys at his firm to make sure the outcomes in their clients’ cases are successful as well.