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Can a Custodial Parent Move Away Without Court Permission?

Phoenix is in the midst of legislative changes over a custodial parent's ability to move without court permission.

Relocation raises child custody, parenting time, visitation, and child support issues, especially if the relocation is out of state. State relocation laws include a variety of rules concerning notice, consent, presumptions, and distance.

But what's Arizona's current law on relocation and what potential changes may be afoot?

Arizona's Relocation Law

Arizona currently follows a "100 mile" rule. Under Arizona law, a "custodial" parent -- one who has sole custody or joint custody and primary physical custody -- must inform the child's other parent of any plans to move more than 100 miles away. He or she must give the non-custodial parent at least 60 days notice of the move.

The non-custodial parent may legally contest the move at least 30 days before the move is to take place. If the move is not contested, the custodial parent can move without court permission. However, a move does not preclude the other parent from exercising his or her parenting rights or rights of visitation set forth in the Parenting Plan. If the move is contested, the courts will determine what is in the best interests of the child and the parent.

SB 1038

There is a new bill in front of the Arizona legislature that may change the state's relocation requirements.

If passed, SB 1038 would do away with the "100 mile" rule and require the parent to provide at least 45 days notice to the other parent for any move, no matter how many -- or few -- additional miles away the move would place the child. According to Sen. Nancy Barto, (R-Phoenix), her legislation aims to create more fairness for noncustodial parents, reports the Verde Independent.

Currently, a court can take into account whether a move would be in a parent's best interest (for example, an employment opportunity). Under the new legislation, a judge would be limited to what's best for the child.

The wording of the legislation is currently in flux, and many more changes may be on the way, so parents should keep an eye out. In the meantime, if one parent is contemplating moving out of state, both parents should consider consulting family law attorneys.

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