Requests to Relocate Within One Year a Child Custody Order Was Issued by the Court
Arizona has a statute that prevents a parent from seeking a modification of a legal decision making or parenting time order within one year of the court issuing a legal decision making or parenting time order unless the children are in imminent danger of harm.
So, what happens when a parent does not file a motion asking to modify legal decision making or parenting time but, instead, files a motion requesting to relocate with the children to another state?
The Arizona Court of Appeals in the published decision in the case of Murray vs. Murray addressed that issue. In the Murray case, a child custody and parenting time order was issued by the court. Less than a year later, the mother in that case remarried and intended to move the children to another state.
Arizona Law Prohibiting a Request to Modify Child Custody Within One Year
Although Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-411 prohibits either parent from filing a motion to modify child custody or parenting time less than a year after the last child custody orders were entered, the court had to determine if that statute also prevented a parent from seeking to relocate with the children by a motion filed less than a year after the last child custody and parenting time orders were entered.
The Court of Appeals found that the practical effect of the mother’s proposed relocation would have caused the court to also modify the current parenting time schedule because the relocation would have made the current parenting time schedule impractical. So, as a practical matter, a request to relocate the children effectively also constituted a request to modify the parenting time schedule in violation of the one year rule set forth in the statute.
The Court of Appeals also addressed whether a court when granting or denying a relocation request must make findings of fact and conclusions of law supporting its decision. In child custody and parenting time cases, a judge is required to make findings of fact and conclusions of law to support its decision.
The Arizona Court of Appeals felt that since a request for relocation implicates changes to the existing parenting time schedule, that a trial court must then also make findings of fact and conclusions of law when the court either grants or denies a request by a parent to relocate the children to another state.
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Chris Hildebrand wrote this article about child relocation cases 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 actually caring about what his clients are going through in a child relocation or family law case.