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When your ex-spouse moves: your right to a relocation hearing

In a previous post, we talked about what happens when one parent in a divorce wants to relocate-and the implications of this move on child custody. In today's post, we examine the recourse the non-relocating parent has to contest this move.

If your ex-spouse decides to move to another state or more than 100 miles away within Arizona, they must give you a 45-days notice of the move. If you are opposed to this move, you have 30 days to submit a petition to the court to block it. The court will then hold a relocation hearing. For parents who have equal physical custody of their child, a relocation hearing is a prerequisite of any move.

The purpose of the hearing is to determine which course of action is in the best interest of your child. The court weighs a variety of factors in making this determination. They include:

· How is the child's relationship with their parents, siblings and any other significant person in the child's life?

· Is the child well settled in their current home and community? Will the move be a disruption in the child's life?

· What are the custodial wishes of the child? (The court will only consider this factor for older children.)

· Is either parent more mentally and physically capable of caring for a child?

· Does either parent have a history of abuse, neglect or violence?

· Has either parent demonstrated any form of deception or coercion in the court proceedings?

The court's determination of a child's best interests can be subjective-making a relocation hearing a stressful experience for any parent. It is therefore critical that your testimony be comprehensive and well founded. Having an experienced child custody attorney on your side can be an extremely valuable asset.

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