Change Custody in AZ When Parent Relocates

Change Custody in AZ When Parent Relocates: A Comprehensive Guide


Custody battles can be emotionally draining and challenging for all parties involved. However, when a parent decides to relocate, it adds an additional layer of complexity to the situation. In the state of Arizona, like in many other states, there are specific laws and guidelines in place to address custody modifications when one parent wishes to move away. In this article, we will explore the process of changing custody arrangements in Arizona when a parent relocates and provide answers to seven frequently asked questions.

Understanding Custody Laws in Arizona:

In Arizona, custody is referred to as “legal decision-making” and “parenting time” rather than sole or joint custody. Legal decision-making encompasses the authority to make important decisions for the child, such as education, healthcare, and religion. On the other hand, parenting time refers to the time each parent spends with the child.

Change of Custody when a Parent Relocates:

When a parent wishes to relocate with their child, they must follow certain legal procedures to ensure a smooth transition. The relocating parent must request permission from the court to modify the current custody order. This involves filing a petition and providing a valid reason for the relocation, as well as proposing a new parenting plan.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Can a parent relocate without court permission?

No, in Arizona, a parent cannot relocate with their child without obtaining permission from the court. If a parent chooses to relocate without court approval, they risk being held in contempt of court and may face serious consequences.

2. What factors does the court consider when deciding to grant permission for relocation?

The court primarily focuses on the best interests of the child when determining whether to grant permission for relocation. Factors such as the child’s relationship with both parents, the reason for the relocation, and the potential impact on the child’s well-being are taken into account.

3. How does a parent request permission for relocation?

To request permission for relocation, the parent must file a petition with the court that outlines the reason for the move and proposes a new parenting plan. The other parent will have an opportunity to respond to the petition and present their arguments to the court.

4. What happens if the non-relocating parent disagrees with the relocation?

If the non-relocating parent disagrees with the proposed relocation, they can file an objection with the court. The court will then hold a hearing to consider both parties’ arguments and make a decision based on the best interests of the child.

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5. Can the court restrict or deny relocation?

Yes, the court has the authority to restrict or deny relocation if it determines that it is not in the best interests of the child. The court may order a modification of custody or parenting time arrangements to ensure the child’s well-being is protected.

6. Are there any distance restrictions for relocation?

While there are no specific distance restrictions for relocation in Arizona, the court will consider the impact of the move on the child’s relationship with the non-relocating parent. If the relocation significantly impairs the non-relocating parent’s ability to maintain a meaningful relationship with the child, the court may restrict or deny the relocation.

7. Can the custody arrangement be modified without relocation?

Yes, custody arrangements can be modified without relocation if there is a substantial and continuing change in circumstances that affects the child’s best interests. This could include changes in the parent’s living situation, employment, or the child’s needs.


Changing custody arrangements when a parent relocates in Arizona is a complex process that requires court approval. The court’s primary concern is the best interests of the child, and decisions are made based on various factors. It is crucial for parents to understand the legal procedures involved and work towards creating a parenting plan that is in the child’s best interests. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, parents can navigate the custody modification process with clarity and confidence.

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