Parental Relocation with Children May Require 1 year wait

So you want to relocate with your children from the State? The Arizona Supreme Court just handed down a clarifying decision on relocation and settlement agreements. The Court in Murray v Murray CA-CV 15-0170 FC in its published opinion stated that if the relocation alters parenting time, and/or legal decision making, then the 1 year waiting period from a prior parenting time/legal decision-making order applies.

So why is this important? Many times parents need to relocate with their children to the detriment of the other parent's parenting time. Arizona requires a 1-year wait prior to filing any motion to modify such orders unless the request demonstrates a narrow set of exceptions related to the health/safety/well being of the child or children affected. This case demonstrates that if you are the one trying to move or the one trying to prevent it, that there are significant hurdles to overcome.

Additionally, the Mother wanting to relocate tried to use as evidence of an agreement, emails and a writing that the Father opposing the move had agreed to, but not in writing. Later, Father admitted to the writings but argued that the settlement was not in the children's best interest. On appeal, Father loses the rule 408 argument, and Mother can use the agreement as evidence. This is especially important because all to often people say in email (which is a writing) things they are willing to do. These can and will be used against you later.

In this case, Mother was denied relocation, but the Court reversed the Trial Court's denial of enforcing Mother's settlement agreement argument. The Trial Court must consider Mother's argument. But it doesn't stop there, even when the Trial Court considers Mother's settlement agreement motion, the Trial Court must consider it in light of the best interest of the children. If the settlement agreement is not in their best interest, then Mother loses her bid for relocation.

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