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What courts consider in parental relocation cases

There are some cases in which divorced parents in Arizona might need to relocate. This could cause a dispute between parents and changes in the custody schedule, and it might be necessary to go to court.

In some situations, a parental relocation might be in a child's best interests. A relocation could provide improved housing or job opportunities or put the parent and child closer to extended family. Relocation does not always mean disruption to a visitation schedule or that visitation is not possible. However, a court often starts from the assumption that relocating is not what's best for a child, so the burden might be on the parent to convince the court otherwise.

Parents have an obligation to inform one another within a reasonable amount of time of their intentions to relocate. This means that a judge will not view someone favorably if he or she waits until appearing in court to inform his or her ex about the relocation. A court will also consider several other factors when deciding whether relocation is in a child's best interests. A judge may ask older children about their preference. The distance involved in the relocation may also be a factor. Finally, a judge may consider what effect the move will have on the child's quality of life.

If a parent expects to move soon after a divorce, this could affect the child custody negotiations. Parents may still have joint legal custody even if physical custody isn't shared. This would mean that each person has the right to make decisions about aspects of his or her child's life, including health care, education and religion. Some parents still have a generous amount of visitation time even if they do not share custody, so a relocation could substantially change a child's schedule.

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