A new piece of legislation in Arizona may require divorced parents to file notices with the court and serve their ex-spouse with the notices before moving.
The bill, described by Bob Christie writing for the Associated Press (reprinted on azfamily.com – link here), would require divorced parents to give notice 60 days in advance of the proposed move. If their ex-spouse objects, then the parent who wishes to move would need to seek judicial approval. While this requirement is no different than the current relocation statute, the circumstances which would prompt the written notification are.
Under current Arizona law, parents are required to notify their ex-spouse if they intend to move out of state or more than 100 miles away. The purpose of this requirement is to address the impact that a long-distance move can have on the parenting time of the non-custodial parent.
The new bill removes the 100-mile “bright line” rule, and instead requires notice to be given if the proposed move substantially affects a number of parenting time related issues, such as parenting time, school attended by the children, or the traveling time for the exchanges. Proponents of the new bill say that abolishing the 100-mile rule will stop abuse by custodial parents who frequently move short distances to interfere with the non-custodial parent’s parenting time, or resolve the problem that arises when a parent moves less than 100 miles, but parenting time is still negatively affected.
Conversely, opponents fear that custodial parents’ right to travel and freedom to accept new employment opportunities. Christie’s article also points out one of many potential conflicts in the event of an involuntary move – a landlord may require a custodial parent to move after issuing a 30-day notice, leaving them without enough time to file proper notice with the court and the non-custodial parent.
In Arizona divorce and child decision-making and parenting time law, the ultimate goal is to effectuate the best interests of the children in every case. For parties with a parenting plan including parenting time for both parents, the new law, if passed, will prevent abuses which are presumably allowed under current statute. It could also open the door for abuse, however, because it become so easy to object a move even if the distance is relatively inconsequential.
The interests of children are almost always best served by the agreement of the parties. Divorced parents who can come together to work out parenting plans and later amend them to incorporate the needs of everyone involved – whether those needs include moving, changing the schedule, or some other arrangement – do their children a great service. After all, having their parents repeatedly feuding in court for unmeritorious reasons is not in any child’s best interest.