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Arizona child custody bill voted down in state legislature

Recently, a bill in the Arizona legislature affecting divorced parents wishing to move was voted down in the House. Currently, when the custodial parent, often the parent with the children most of the time, wants to move out of Arizona or more than 100 miles away, she or he is required to notify the other parent, called the non-custodial parent. Sometimes, court approval is necessary prior to moving. The proposed bill sought to shorten the geographical distance, so that a move more than 10 miles away would require the custodial parent to give a 45-day notice to the non-custodial parent. As with current law, the bill includes instances where court approval would also be necessary.

Those supporting the bill state that the current law has been misused by parents who move often, which hampers the non-custodial parents' ability to participate in school functions and visitation. Those opposed to the bill believe it would affect the custodial parents' ability to buy a home or take a new job. They also note that the shortened distance would allow for non-custodial parents to harass the former spouse by objecting to any move. A similar bill was introduced last year, but did not pass.

Visitation rights, relocating and child custody in general are often emotional areas for divorced parents. In many states, the courts allow parents to jointly determine relocation issues in an agreement. Agreements containing resolved issues generally appear in a child custody or parenting plan, which are often entered into when finalizing the divorce. Other issues parents can agree to include visitation rights, timeshare with the children and a holiday schedule.

If the agreement contains items pertaining to minor children, the court will ensure the best interests of the child are considered. In doing so, the judge may consider such things as the mental and physical health of the parents, the home environments and the ages of the children. Agreements may also include information about child support, although monetary issues may also be taken care of separately. Child support orders require a different set of considerations. An Arizona attorney skilled in child custody issues such as relocation, custody agreements and support orders can provide guidance.

Source: Ktar.com, "Arizona House rejects move notice to noncustodial parents," April 15, 2014

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