Arizona legislature eyes limits on divorced parents’ moves

In Arizona, a parent who has the primary physical custody of a child basically has no restrictions on when they can simply pack up and move as far as 100 miles away, erecting a barrier to the continued involvement of the non-custodial parent in their child’s life. Doing so violates no law, and there is no mechanism to review whether that is detrimental to the other parent or to the child. If some in the state legislature have their way, that may change.

The focus in the new law being contemplated is clearly on the best interest of the child following a divorce. Current law in effect for the past two decades focuses on whether such a move is in the best interest of the parent. Some critics of the proposed change, however, think that it goes too far, allowing a non-custodial parent to invite court scrutiny of just about any move contemplated by an ex-spouse.

In Arizona two years ago, statistics show that there were a total of 37,064 couples getting wed and 28,072 divorces, with no one exactly sure how many of the couples splitting up had non-adult children in the household. If the law is changed as proposed, a court reviewing a contemplated move will be able to take into account whether the result will be greatly increased travel time for the non-custodial parent to see their child, which could make visits less frequent for some.

One problem some see with the proposed change is a 45 day notice requirement, suggesting that there could be circumstances in which a move is needed in a shorter period of time. Proponents of the change suggest that some custodial parents take advantage of the current carte blanche rule for moves less than 100 miles away by making a set of incremental moves that add up to a far greater distance over time. In the end, what is most important, of course, is that children continue to have the love, support, and involvement of both parents in their lives as much as possible.

Source:  Capitol Media Services, “Legislation would add hurdle for divorced parents who have custody of their kids to move” Howard Fischer, Feb. 07, 2014

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