Traveling and Arizona Family Law

Safely Traveling During an Arizona Family Law Case

Any court process can be difficult to navigate while continuing to live your life, but family law cases are especially complex. What’s more, these types of cases deal with situations that are often close to your heart. Arizona family law is a body of statutes that regulate issues between marital, blood, and domestic relatives.

Family law includes practice areas such as:

  • Divorce
  • Alimony/ Spousal Support
  • Child Custody
  • Parenting Time/ Visitation
  • Child Support
  • Paternity
  • Modifications To Existing Family Law Court Orders

These case types often take a severe emotional toll on those involved and can significantly drain your mental health. One common suggestion to help recover from the emotional burnout caused by family law cases is taking a vacation. Traveling can, in fact, be a therapeutic escape from the issues that arise during family law matters.

Traveling can be a therapeutic escape

Unfortunately, some family law cases can be affected if you choose to travel or especially relocate during the proceedings. These issues can reduce the mental health benefits of your vacation and prevent maximum recovery, so it is important to forward-plan your trip and take precautions against harming your case. Thoroughly evaluating the implications of travel on your case can reduce potential issues, increased stress, and a negative outcome.

The following tips can help you safely navigate both your legal case and your travel.

Consult Your Attorney Before Travel

Any family law matter is best handled with the expertise and knowledge of a family law attorney. The right attorney can be an invaluable resource as you navigate your case, helping you to avoid any actions that may harm your position. Working with an attorney from the beginning of your case will also ensure they are already familiar with your case should you have questions about traveling, creating a situation where they can provide helpful advice and insights on how to proceed with your plans. If required, an attorney can help you draft a petition that requests permission for travel from the court if the other party denies permission for the travel. Their suggestions can help ensure your request is approved by the court.

Follow Custody Orders

One important factor that a judge will consider during a family law case that involves children, such as a divorce or child custody case, is a parent’s willingness and ability to follow any orders from the court. Once a custody order has been created, either temporary or permanent, both parents are legally obligated to abide by that order. Failing to follow these orders can be seen as an attempt to interfere with the other parent’s relationship with their children and harm your chances of attaining your preferred custody arrangement.

Some arrangements will specify no out-of-state travel, while others will state no travel without the permission of both parents. It is essential to confirm you understand the exact wording of your custody order to prevent breaking it. If your custody order requires that you get permission from the other parent, get written proof of their approval for your records. This documented proof will help reduce any misunderstandings during your travel, as well as prevent false allegations of traveling with the children without permission.

Allow Parental Access During the Vacation

Depending on your custody agreement, you may be required to seek permission from your co-parent if you plan on taking an out-of-state or international vacation. It can make the situation seem less concerning for them if you agree to periodic phone or video calls during the vacation. This concession will also look better for you if your co-parent denies travel permission and you escalate the matter to request permission from a judge.

Avoid Sharing Travel Plans On Social Media

Often, family law cases can become battlegrounds where opposing parties use any means to gather evidence they believe will help their case. Social media is one venue they can use to gather information about your life. Even an innocent post could potentially be twisted to show you and your parenting skills in a negative light. Blocking the opposing party is not an effective solution, as they can create fake accounts or ask mutual friends to monitor your posts. This is not to suggest that you do not document the memories and fun times of your travel, but it is safest to keep those photographs and videos off social media, at least until your case is resolved.

Be Mindful of Your Expenses and Budget

From start to finish, a family law case can drag on for years. Until your case is closed, it can be difficult to anticipate exactly how long it will take the court to finalize the arrangements. The longer your case takes, the more expensive your case will become. Between court costs, attorney fees, and other miscellaneous bills, family law cases can be a significant drain on your finances. It is important to consider this while creating a budget for your travel expenses, then stick with the budget that fits into your means. All the relaxation of your vacation will be lost if you must come back to your case worried about how you will pay for the remainder of your case.

Consider Postponing Your Travel

In some circumstances, the best choice is to delay long-distance travel until your case concludes. The potential negative outcomes from the travel may outweigh any benefits you could experience from the vacation. If this happens, you may still have options for travel, just over a shorter distance. Searching for in-state events or popular vacation spots can afford you the opportunity to travel without breaking any existing travel restrictions or traveling too far to quickly appear in court, if necessary. The choice to postpone travel will best be made by consulting with your family law attorney.

Contact Your Attorney While Traveling

After deliberation, it may be determined to be completely acceptable to follow through with your travel plans. If you choose to continue with your travel during your family law matter, it is vital that you keep your attorney informed throughout the duration of your trip. In especially contentious situations, the opposing party may use your absence to their benefit. Providing your attorney with your itinerary and contact information can ensure their access to you in the event of an emergency or time-sensitive update. You should also inform your attorney of the methods you use to maintain contact between the children and their other parent.

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Travel and Arizona Family Law Questions

Arizona family law matters can be complex and challenging to navigate.

Common questions to answer as you consider traveling include the following:

Can a Parent Take a Child Out of State Prior to Divorce?
Parents that are legally married prior to a divorce being filed with the court are considered to have equal rights to their children. Either parent is fully within their rights to take their children out of state. However, it may not be in your or the children’s best interests to remove them from the home. While deciding custody matters, the court will consider if either parent is interfering with the other parent’s relationship with the children. Removing the children from a stable home and taking them across state lines can be seen as preventing a relationship with the other parent.
How Does Legal Separation Affect Travel with Children?
During a legal separation, the parents are still viewed by the law as legally married, even though they will go through the child custody and property division process. This can cause issues if one parent chooses to travel or move before a custody arrangement is in place. For example, a parent may inform their spouse that they are taking their children on vacation out of state and then choose not to return. In this instance, law enforcement can do little to intervene as it is not illegal for a parent to keep their children during a legal separation. It is best to get travel decisions, such as location and duration, in writing to show an established agreement.

Suggested Reading: Best Apps for Co-Parenting

Can I Travel During a Divorce?
In many cases, courts will not impose travel restrictions on adults going through a divorce if the couple does not share children. Though you are legally married to your spouse until the divorce decree is finalized, you are free to make travel plans without your spouse. Your spouse, however, may use your absence to sway the divorce in their favor, so ensuring you remain accessible to your attorney is important during your travel plans.
What Is the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act?
Different states will have different rules and regulations pertaining to travel during family law matters. It may be tempting to relocate yourself and your children to a state where you believe you are more likely to succeed. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) was created to prevent this exact scenario and has been adopted by every US state except Massachusetts. This law recognizes that children have a home state and must have lived in the state for six months before a state’s custody laws will apply to them.
Do I Need a Consent Letter to Travel with My Child?
Child abductions in relation to divorce and child custody cases have become more common, necessitating a letter of consent when only one parent is traveling with a minor child. This letter ensures the legitimacy of the accompanying parent’s legal right to travel with the child. Having the letter of consent notarized offers even more protection in the event your travel is challenged. A consent letter is important for any travel but is especially important if you plan on flying with your child.

Can a Divorced Mother Travel with the Child?
In Arizona, if a child is born outside of a marriage, it is assumed to be in the child’s best interest to be with the mother until paternity is established. This gives the mother the right to travel with the child. Once paternity is legally determined by the court, a child custody order should be created. Depending on the best interests of the child, the court will draft an agreement that specifies sole or joint custody between the parents. This agreement should provide guidance on traveling with the child for either parent.

Suggested Reading: Mothers and Custody in Arizona

Child Custody and Travel

Unfortunately, some travel plans simply are not feasible during a family law case, especially when you consider travel restrictions for parents and children during a divorce or custody matter. This does not mean that you are entirely prevented from making trips with your children during your divorce or custody matter, just that you may need to shorten the distance you plan to travel and keep your travel within Arizona state lines.

Creating A Travel Plan With The Valley Law Group

Planning travel that easily fits within the legal parameters of your case is best accomplished with a skilled family law attorney. Their experience and knowledge will be vital in creating a plan that does not affect your case and protects your interests. Attorneys at The Valley Law Group have over 60 years of collective experience, ensuring a complete knowledge base that helps us offer the best possible advice on your travel plans.

Regardless of your family law matter, we can quickly resolve any issues that arise during your case if you decide to follow through with your travel plans. The Valley Law Group team can guide you through the complex process of travel while handling a divorce or Arizona child custody matter.

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