Relocating with Child After Divorce in Arizona

relocating with child after divorceWhen parents go through a divorce, it is hard for a child of any age. Unless it is feasible for different circumstances, the child will end up with one parent for the majority of the time. This means that the child will end up only visiting the other parent. The arrangement can work well for some families, but for others, the child may not like the decision that was made for them.

There is no age in the state of Arizona that legally states a child can decide who they live with permanently. There are certain age thresholds in which the court will begin to let child testimony weigh more in the hearings.

Legal Decision Making in the State of Arizona

In the state of Arizona, there is no real legal age listed in the law that defines when a child can decide what is in their best interest. Per A.R.S. § 25-403, the legal decision making in the best interest of a child is done by the court. The court will consider all of the factors that are relevant to the physical and emotional wellbeing of the child.

Around the age of 12, the judge will begin considering child interviews. These interviews are to find out the child’s opinion as well as anything that may need to be brought to the court’s attention. As the child gets older, their opinions will hold more weight with the judge and the decisions they make. The court may move for these interviews if:

  • The court feels the child is competent to testify and has the desire to do so
  • The impact testifying could have on their psychological and emotional wellbeing
  • The relevance and reliability of the child’s testimony and the impact it could have on the judge’s ultimate decision

If the judge decides to interview the child, the court is allowed to do so in chambers as opposed to the courtroom. The most common procedure in Arizona courts is to go through the Conciliation Services with a parenting conference.

Child’s Attorney or Court-Appointed Advisor

According to A.R.S. § 25-321, rule 10 of the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure, the court has the authority to appoint a representative to assist in considering the child’s wishes. These are often referred to as a child’s attorney, a “best interest” attorney, or a court-appointed advisor.

The attorney or court-appointed advisor will present to the judge or the court what they found in their interview or investigation with the child. This interview may include interviewing witnesses, reviewing school records, looking into the child’s medical records, any DCS or police reports if they are available, and any other documentation that the advisor deems appropriate in their investigation.

Click here to find out about alimony guidelines in Arizona.

Matters of Custody in the Arizona Legal System

The custody matters regarding a child will reside in the Arizona Family Court system. For matters in these courtrooms, you need to hire an Arizona family law attorney. These attornies are skilled in handling matters that pertain to family law and what parent or child rights are within the system. If you find yourself in the situation where your child wants to change their living arrangements, and they are at least 12 years old, it may be worth hiring a family law attorney in Arizona to help handle your case.

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