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Legal Decision-Making and Parenting Time Resources

Arizona Civil Legal Needs Community Survey

Civil legal organizations in Arizona are seeking your input to increase their ability to meet the civil legal needs of Arizona's lower income residents. Please complete this survey to assist in improving civil legal services in Arizona.

Encuesta de Necesidades Legales Civiles de Arizona

Las organizaciones legales civiles en Arizona buscan su opinión para aumentar su capacidad de satisfacer las necesidades legales civiles de los residentes de bajos ingresos de Arizona. Por favor complete esta encuesta para ayudar a mejorar los servicios legales civiles en Arizona.

Long Distance Parenting and Relocation

Long-distance parenting rules can apply whenever the the move between homes is more than 100 miles or there is travel between two states.  The long-distance move of a child is only permitted when the move is in the best interest of the child.

Disagreements about long-distance parenting time often result in the judge making a decision.  Each relocation case is unique, and the right decision is based on the specific facts for each family.  Parents should make a serious effort to resolve a parenting time dispute themselves or with the help of a mediator, or an attorney.  Any reasonable agreement between the parents negotiated in good faith is usually better than having a judge decide the matter after the expense and stress of a court hearing.

When parents live far apart, there should be a minimum of four blocks of parenting time between the child and parent each year.  Blocks of time should occur over the summer, winter break, spring break, and at least one other block of time.  When the parents live close enough to each other, parents can add once-a-month weekend time blocks.  When the driving distance is under four hours, the opportunity exists to add every-other-weekend contact or long weekends in the plan.

The cost of travel is covered in the child support guidelines.  If the court has not said who pays for the travel expenses in the child support order, the parents should agree on how to share these costs before a move.  In the case where the move is necessary, the costs usually are divided in proportion to the income of the parents.  If the move is voluntary, the moving parent usually agrees to pay a greater percentage of all travel costs.

Air Travel

Ideally, a child younger than 8 should not travel alone.  If it is necessary for a child to travel by air, direct flights between major cities are preferred over multiple stops or plane changes.  To save costs, tickets should be priced at a 30-day advance notice, economy class, on major carriers.  Consult each airline for how and when unaccompanied or monitored minors may fly.  Remember that if a person younger than 18 is traveling in the United States alone or with only one adult, a court order or certified consent letter proving that both parents permit the trip should be carried.

Delays at Exchange Points

Keep contact numbers current and notify each other of the safe arrival of the child.  Be sure to keep each other informed of any unforeseen delays as soon as possible.  Discuss in advance what a reasonable waiting time for each parent means in regards to transportation.

Drop-In Visits

Opportunities can occur for either parent to be in town when the children are in the care of the other parent.  When such opportunities arise, parents should be flexible and set aside normal routines to allow contact on short notice.

Flexible Days

Parents can expect preteens and teens to start to negotiate with both parents about their living arrangements.  one solution is to build into the plan flexible days for the child to choose to expand or contract time inside an otherwise fixed schedule.

Frequent Moves

When either parent moves frequently and without good reason, that parent can expect to bear the burden of the move and pay more for the costs and travel time for parenting.

International Parenting Time and Border Travel

International parenting time and travel have unique challenges.  Children may leave the county without restriction, but must have proof of citizenship to return.  The parent that have the child most of the time is responsible for safeguarding passports and visas.  The parent with less parenting time should maintain copies of important travel documents.  Remember that if a person younger than 18 is traveling alone or with only one adult, a court order or certified consent letter proving that both parents permit the trip should be carried.

Milestones and Child Development

It is important for each parent exercising parenting time with the children to keep the other informed about school progress, awards, special recognition, report cards, sports performance, physical and emotional health concerns, extracurricular activities, and other important milestones and developments in the life of a child.  The child should know the significant, age-appropriate events in the life of each parent.  Traveling or shared journals are a useful tool for such purposes.

Time Loss for Travel

In a long-distance parenting plan, anticipate the loss of time with children by both parents because of travel over great distances.  Building parenting time into travel may be a probable solution. Travel time activities can be a chance for parents and children to transition and enhance their relationship.

Virtual Parenting

Maintaining contact by phone, letter, text messaging, email, video messaging, and other technological means may be helpful and worthwhile for long-distance parenting.  Virtual parenting is not an ideal substitute for regular in-person contact, and it should not be used as an alternative that decreases the parenting time of a parent.