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Relocating Out of State While You’re Getting Divorced

Sometimes, a divorcing spouse’s life circumstances can change substantially, such that they need to move to a new state while the case is still pending. This can happen because of a new job, a need to be closer to family, a health issue or other factors. While relocation during a divorce is possible, it can have an impact on the resolution of certain issues.

As an initial matter, a relocation out of state does not divest the Arizona courts of jurisdiction. To get a divorce in Arizona, you or your spouse must have been a resident of the state for 90 days prior to filing. Only the person filing for divorce needs to be a resident, so if your spouse is remaining in Arizona and will file for divorce, that is sufficient. If, however, you are the one filing for divorce, you will want to make sure to postpone your relocation until after the filing is complete.

One issue to be aware of in relocating during a divorce is the effect of purchasing a new home. Any real property purchased with marital funds is subject to Arizona’s community property laws and would be equally owned by both you and your spouse. Even if you purchase your home with funds that are entirely your own, such as an inheritance, your spouse will be required to sign a disclaimer deed, by which he or she consents to the purchase. If your spouse will not sign the deed, then you will not be able to purchase the home as your individual property. Arizona courts cannot compel a spouse to sign a disclaimer deed, so this issue must be worked out as part of a divorce settlement negotiation.

Moving to a different state may also have an impact on any spousal maintenance you may be awarded by the court, especially if there is a significant disparity in cost of living between where you currently live and where you intend to relocate. If you are the spouse who will be paying maintenance, relocating to another state will not relieve you of your obligation.

If you have children, moving out of state can have an impact on child custody arrangements. Any decisions by the court about custody and parenting time must be based on what is in the best interests of the child. If a parent decides to relocate to another state, they should be prepared to show the court how they will coordinate parenting time and the logistics of living in two different states, in ways that work to the benefit of the child.

Ultimately, the impact of relocation on your divorce will depend on your individual circumstances. Ideally, you should speak with a knowledgeable Arizona divorce attorney prior to making any moving arrangements.

At Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. in Scottsdale, Arizona, we are experienced in advising clients on all aspects of divorce. Please call our office at 602-789-3497 or contact us online for a consultation.