Wednesday, October 13, 2010

RELOCATION / MOVE-AWAY CASES - The Most Difficult Matter In Family Court

Relocation and move-away cases are the most emotionally difficult matters in Family Court today.  There’s so much at stake.  It pits a parent’s right to improve his or her quality of life against the other parent’s right to maintain frequent and meaningful contact with the children.  When a written agreement, or court order, for custody of children is in place, then Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) Section 25-408 is controlling.  Failure to abide by the requirements of the statute could result in disastrous consequences.  Therefore, whether you are thinking of relocating to another city or state with your children – or whether you are opposing the other parent’s attempt to move – you would be wise to consult a qualified family law attorney for advice. 

In deciding whether or not to allow the relocation, the Court is required to determine whether the move would be in the “best interests” of the children.  In arriving at his or her decision, the judge must consider “all relevant factors,” including:

(1)        The factors listed in A.R.S., Section 25-403 as to custody;

(2)        Whether the relocation (or opposition) is being made in good faith and not to interfere with or frustrate the relationship between the child and the other parent;

(3)        The prospective advantage of the move for improving the quality of life for the custodial parent and/or the child;

(4)        The likelihood that the parent with whom the child will reside after the relocation will comply with parenting time orders;

(5)        Whether the relocation will allow a realistic opportunity for parenting time with each parent;

(6)        The extent to which moving or not moving will affect the emotional, physical or developmental needs of the child;

(7)        The motives of the parents and the validity of the reasons given for moving or opposing the move including the extent to which either parent may intend to gain a financial advantage regarding continuing child support obligations; and

(8)               The potential effect of relocation on the child’s stability.   

See A.R.S., Section 25-408(I).

The burden of proving that the move is in the children’s best interest is on the parent wishing to relocate.

A parent wishing to move must provide a “60 Day Notice” of intent to relocate as spelled out in A.R.S., Section 25-408(B) and (C).  The notice can be a letter stating that you intend to move with the children.  You should also include the prospective date of the move, the place you are going, and the reason for the move (i.e., a new job).  The letter must be sent by certified mail return-receipt requested, or served by a process server.  If your ex-spouse wishes to contest the move, he or she must file a petition to prevent relocation within thirty days after the notice is made.

Providing the proper notice is critical.  Relocating without sending a timely notice can result in the moving parent losing custody of the children.  Failing to object to a move in a timely manner can result in the relocation being allowed.  Whether you wish to move -- or if you are opposing a move – preparing a strong case for presentation to the Court is of the utmost importance. 

Relocation / Move-Away cases can be among the most highly contested cases in Family Court.  Gary Frank has nearly thirty years of experience as a litigator dealing with Relocation / Move-Away cases.  To schedule an appointment for a consultation regarding an issue of custody or relocation, call our office today at 602-383-3610 or contact us through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com.