Custody agreement across states

Since family laws and custody agreements are considered an area of state law, different states may have different regulations and standards when it comes to creating and enforcing custody agreements. When a child’s primary residence changes from one state to another, the jurisdiction over a custody agreement changes to that of the new state. The new state may have differing family laws than the original state, but this does not mean that the agreement will immediately change.

Arizona statutes dictate that a child custody agreement transferred from another state will not be modified except under very narrow conditions even if the laws differ between the states. This means that a custody agreement will be filed in Arizona exactly as it was created in the original state unless a party to the agreement can contest on any of three conditions. The party may claim that the original court that issued the agreement did not have jurisdiction. They may also show that the agreement has been modified since it was provided to the court or that they did not receive proper notice of the proceedings.

A primary reason why Arizona so easily accepts out of state judgments is that the legality of the move will have been determined by the issuing court before the relocation occurs. When a parent wishes to relocate with a child and that child is part of a custody agreement, the other parent or the original court must approve the move before it takes place.

Since the grounds for contesting the registration of the agreement in a new state may rely on legal technicalities, the time to contest a move is before it takes place. A parent with joint custody or visitation rights may argue that a move across state lines would disrupt their right to access the child. Proof of this could prevent any such relocation.