The Hague Convention and the relocation of a child either interstate or internationally is something that pops up in very few lives. These are the cases I live for, because when I am successful, it’s incredibly rewarding to see a child reunited with a parent after abduction.
Unfortunately, too many people don’t move fast enough when they learn their child will be relocated. The Hague convention is there to help avoid the trap some parents can fall into.
Arizona does offer legal protection against relocating a child out of state, but only if there is a right to parenting time by marriage or court order:
25-408. Rights of each parent; parenting time; relocation of child; exception; enforcement; access to prescription medication and records
A. If by written agreement or court order both parents are entitled to joint legal decision-making or parenting time and both parents reside in the state, at least forty-five days’ advance written notice shall be provided to the other parent before a parent may do either of the following:
1. Relocate the child outside the state.
2. Relocate the child more than one hundred miles within the state.
B. The notice required by this section shall be made by certified mail, return receipt requested, or pursuant to the Arizona rules of family law procedure. The court shall sanction a parent who, without good cause, does not comply with the notification requirements of this subsection. The court may impose a sanction that will affect legal decision-making or parenting time only in accordance with the child’s best interests.
C. Within thirty days after notice is made the nonmoving parent may petition the court to prevent relocation of the child. After expiration of this time any petition or other application to prevent relocation of the child may be granted only on a showing of good cause. This subsection does not prohibit a parent who is seeking to relocate the child from petitioning the court for a hearing, on notice to the other parent, to determine the appropriateness of a relocation that may adversely affect the other parent’s legal decision-making or parenting time rights.
D. Subsection A of this section does not apply if provision for relocation of a child has been made by a court order or a written agreement of the parties that is dated within one year of the proposed relocation of the child.
E. If a child is relocated pursuant to this section, unless otherwise ordered by the court, all parties must continue to comply with current court orders, regardless of distance moved or notice required.
What happens if you receive notice that your child will be relocated outside of Arizona? This is the time to consult an attorney. If you wait to object or take action, you could forfeit important rights.
There have been some important interstate and international cases involving child relocations that could be characterized as abductions.
Moshier Law has represented clients in interstate and international collaborative law cases. We have also represented clients in international child abductions. Being on the right side of the law can mean everything in your case. The Hague Convention signatories will act to enforce court orders and the best interests of the children. However, there is a process to enforcing your rights – again, call a lawyer to protect those rights.
In some cases, the outcome can be tragic. Michael Stangarone, a Canadian attorney with whom we have served as co-counsel, handled a case in which a child was abducted to Armenia, a non-signatory to the Hague Convention. His mother is Canadian, and a recent article for which Mr. Stangarone was interviewed documented that the mother had to travel to Armenia to see her child for brief (hours-long) intervals:
She’s taken leave from her job as a radiation therapist in Durham and since June 20, Chan has been in Armenia battling to have their courts recognize her Ontario custody orders. “It’s very scary. I don’t know the language, which has been a huge, huge problem.”
“It’s a nightmare,” says her lawyer Michael Stangarone. “If you lose a child to one of these countries (that isn’t a signatory), it’s hard to have them returned. Tammy is stuck in a quagmire in a foreign land trying to bring her child home.”
If you are facing an interstate child relocation or an international relocation, call our firm. I have appeared in courtrooms in California and Arizona for nearly two decades, and coordinated with talented and efficient lawyers from as far as Japan to help repatriate children. Call 480-999-0800.