As the best divorce lawyers in Gilbert AZ we often get asked, “what do you do if one of the parents in a case wants to move out of the state of Arizona?” How do you deal with something like that? It’s a tough situation, to be honest, because one of the things that always happens when somebody moves a long ways away, is that the other parent is naturally going to lose time with their child and that may seem unfair and it is some cases. This is a situation that arises quite often in cases both during divorce and after divorce. A lot of times a spouse will move on with their life, get remarried and maybe their spouse gets a job or something out of state requires them to move.
I recently had an interesting case that involved a situation just like this. It involved a father who lived here in Arizona, and a mother who, at the time the parties were divorced, moved to Oregon. Now, when the mom moved to Oregon, the child that the parties had together was about eighteen months old. She decided at that time to leave the child in Arizona with the father as she was going to go on with her life and live in Oregon. For the next six or seven years, father raised the child essentially as a single father. The mother would have some parenting time up in Oregon but usually during the summers. Well, about a year ago, mom decided she wanted to have the child move to Oregon with her. The father, a local dentist, hired me to help him fight that. Arizona has some very specific rules when it comes to relocating a child. There’s a procedure that has to be followed in order to legally move a child from the state of Arizona more than a hundred miles away. A lot of people don’t realize that you can actually move a child within a hundred mile circle without permission from the court or from the other party. Now, that still creates a lot of other issues and we can talk about that another time; but, if you want to move child more than a hundred miles away from the other parent, there’s a process that you have to follow. That process involves sending notice to the other parent that you intend to relocate the child more than a hundred miles away, a specific date by which you intend to relocate the child, you also have to tell the other parent why you want to move the child in the first place, and then you are supposed to have some kind of a plan to make sure that the other parent is going to have as much time with the child going forward as they possibly can have. We gotta talk about parenting plans, right? Well, of course, my client was absolutely against his son moving to Oregon for good reason. He had raised the child essentially by himself. The child was in school. He was in scouts. He had lots of friends. This was gonna be a significant change for him, so he hired us and we ended up having to go to court over this issue.
Now an interesting thing that actually happened in this case is that, while the the young boy was up in Oregon visiting his mother on school break, she actually dis-enrolled him from school in Arizona and enrolled him in school in Oregon without the fathers permission. Now that’s a huge problem, and obviously goes completely against that procedure that I talked about a couple of minutes ago. So he came to us and asked us to help him in this situation. We immediately went to court asking the court to order that the child be returned to Arizona immediately, and then we had to, of course, fight mother’s request to relocate the child Oregon. This is a very long process. Judges have a very difficult time deciding these relocation cases, because, frankly, one of the parents is going to win and one of the parents is going to lose. There’s really not a whole lot of middle ground in relocation cases, especially one that’s a really, really big distance. So we took this this matter to the judge and explained to the judge in this situation the child had a very long history living in Arizona, he was well established here, he had lots of friends, he was doing well in school, he loved being here, and that moving him to Oregon under these circumstances was not in his best interest. And the fact of the matter is, that even though the child was nine years old, he still didn’t wanna go. So after an evidentiary hearing (we had to actually go to trial in this case if you can believe it) the judge agreed with my client and said, “Nope, this child is going to stay in Arizona. The mother unlawfully moved him to Oregon during the fall break and we’re not going to order that he go to Oregon on a full-time basis.” In fact, because the judge was so unhappy with the mother’s conduct in the case, the judge actually awarded my client attorney fees.
So, when you’re going through a divorce or even if this is a situation that arises after divorce, understand that there are laws in Arizona that require parents to follow procedures, especially when it comes to relocation cases. These are stressful, stressful situations, and you need someone who understands the law and is willing to go fight for your rights. At the law offices of Kevin Jensen, we understand this issue. We’ve dealt with it many, many times. We want you to call us, come in, let us talk to you about your situation. We provide a thirty minute consultation. We can tell you what your rights are, and we can tell you how we can go fight for them. Thank you.
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