The period after a divorce can often feel like a fresh start, ushering in new opportunities and the prospect of a different life path. This renewed sense of possibility might lead someone to consider moving to a new location. However, the decision to move after a divorce is far from simple, especially when children are involved, and the custodial arrangement comes into play. 

Whether you’re the primary custodial parent or the non-custodial parent, understanding the legal and emotional dimensions of relocation is vital. At The Peterson Law Firm, we recognize the intricacies of post-divorce matters and stand ready to guide as experienced family law attorneys.

What are Arizona’s Child Custody Relocation Laws?

Arizona law takes child custody relocation seriously, primarily focusing on the child’s best interests. A custodial parent must comply with specific legal requirements before moving with a child either out of state or more than 100 miles away within Arizona.

Arizona Revised Statute §25-408 outlines these crucial aspects:

  • Notice to Non-Custodial Parent: The custodial parent must provide written notice at least 45 days before the planned move to the non-custodial parent, including details of the intended relocation.
  • Objection and Court Intervention: If the non-custodial parent objects to the move, they must file a petition with the court within 30 days from the advance written notice. The court may then hold a hearing to determine whether the move is in the child’s best interest.


Who is the Primary Custodial Parent in an Arizona Divorce?

In an Arizona divorce, the primary custodial parent is the one with whom the child resides for the majority of the time. This parent holds the responsibility of making day-to-day decisions for the child and plays a pivotal role in their upbringing.

If the primary custodial parent wants to move with the child, they must follow the legal process outlined above. The court will consider the child’s best interests when making decisions about relocation.

How Courts Decide Whether to Allow a Custodial Parent to Move with a Child

When a custodial parent wishes to relocate with a child after divorce, the court’s primary concern is the child’s best interests, which covers:

  • The relationship between the child and each parent
  • The child’s adjustment to school, community, and home
  • The child’s age and preferences (if mature enough)
  • Each parent’s ability to facilitate a meaningful relationship between the child and the other parent
  • The impact of relocation on the child’s emotional, physical, and developmental needs


The court may also examine:

  • Reason for Relocation: Understanding the motives behind the move is crucial. If the custodial parent is relocating for a valid reason, such as a job opportunity, proximity to extended family members, or improved living conditions, the court is more likely to consider it favorably.
  • Impact on Child’s Relationships: The court assesses how the move might affect the child’s relationships with both parents and other important individuals in their life. Maintaining a stable emotional connection with both parents is a critical factor in the court’s decision.
  • Educational and Community Considerations: The potential impact of the move on the child’s education, access to community resources, and general well-being are evaluated. The court aims to ensure that the child’s life remains as uninterrupted as possible.
  • Non-Custodial Parent’s Rights: The non-custodial parent’s rights and involvement in the child’s life are taken into account. The court seeks to uphold the child’s right to maintain a meaningful relationship with both parents.
  • Child’s Preference (if Applicable): If the child is mature enough, their wishes regarding the move may also be considered, although this is just one factor among many.
  • Ultimately, the court’s decision hinges on whether the relocation serves the child’s best interests and overall well-being.


What If We Agree to a Planned Relocation with the Children?

In certain cases, divorced parents may find themselves in agreement about a planned relocation with their children. When both parents are on the same page regarding the move and believe it’s in the best interest of the child, the process can be smoother. However, even in amicable situations, it’s advisable to formalize the agreement legally. This can involve revisiting the custody arrangement and modifying it to reflect the new living situation.

When parents agree to a planned relocation, they should:

  1. Draft a Written Agreement: Document the terms of the relocation agreement in writing. This should include details about the new location, visitation schedules, transportation arrangements, and any other pertinent factors.
  2. Seek Legal Approval: While the parents might be in agreement, it’s crucial to have the agreement reviewed and approved by the court. This helps ensure that the new arrangement aligns with the child’s best interests and that both parties understand their rights and responsibilities.
  3. Maintain Open Communication: Throughout the relocation process, maintain open and respectful communication with the other parent. Regular updates about the child’s well-being, schooling, and other important aspects can help foster a positive co-parenting relationship.


It’s important to note that even when parents agree to a planned relocation, they should be prepared for unforeseen challenges that might arise. By addressing potential issues in the relocation agreement and seeking legal guidance, divorced parents can navigate the transition more smoothly, ensuring that the child’s welfare remains at the forefront of their decisions. 

What if the Custodial Parent Moves Without Consent?

Moving without complying with the legal requirements can result in serious legal consequences. The court may hold the custodial parent in contempt and even modify custody arrangements due to non-compliance. The custodial parent could also be charged with parental child abduction or kidnapping.

Don’t Make a Move Without Proper Legal Assistance

The decision to relocate after divorce is multifaceted and requires careful consideration of legal and emotional implications, particularly when children are involved. Having experienced legal counsel is pivotal to ensuring that any move you make, whether as the custodial or non-custodial parent, is best for your child and agreed upon by all parties involved.

Our experienced family law attorney is here to support you in making informed decisions that prioritize the well-being of your children. If you’re facing questions about relocation, contact us today for compassionate and knowledgeable legal representation. By working together, we can ensure that your choices align with your children’s best interests and set the stage for a positive future.


We value each and every one of our clients, employees, friends, and neighbors. Together, we have a social responsibility as a community partner to take proactive measures to keep our community well and to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Our office will remain open during regular business hours. However, we are implementing some additional precautions to limit social interactions and personal proximity. Specifically, we will seek to conduct consultations, meetings, conferences through video teleconferencing or on the phone whenever possible. Should an in-person appointment be needed, then we will coordinate those on an appointment basis.

If you have questions about your case and the status of the court, then please call. Our Firm will continually monitor the status of the coronavirus, so we are prepared to resume normal operations as quickly as possible.

From all of us at The Peterson Law Firm, please stay well.