Q: My ex wife, who has custody of our 3 kids is moving them out of state without my consent.
Our court paperwork says she needs my written consent but she seems to think that because there has been a lapse in my child support payments, due to me switching jobs and trying to set up wage garnishment for months now (because the last time I tried to mail in my child support obligation it got lost in the mail), that I no longer have any rights whatsoever. She has gone as far as to block my number on my daughter's cell phone and doesn't let me call and talk to them anymore. Do I have any rights here or can she just vanish with my kids?
A: Arizona law requires a 45-day notice, in writing, of intent to move out of state. Your parental rights are not directly tied to whether or not you are current with child support.
Child custody matters across state lines (and it sounds like there are three or more states involved in this dispute) are EXTREMELY complicated. Most judges get confused when you use the acronym "UCCJEA." The best route is always to do everything in your power to resolve the issue directly with your ex. I would propose you resolve the child support issue and see if it improves your ex's willingness to negotiate with you. One possible solution: ask your ex to provide you a notarized agreement that a Venmo payment is for child support obligations which were delayed due to your change in employment. Make the Venmo payment. She gets her cash, you have proof it was for child support, and, maybe, you two can focus on doing the right thing for your daughter.
If you cannot resolve the matter with your ex directly, you are definitely going to need legal representation. An attorney licensed in the state where your child is currently residing would be good, an attorney licensed in both the state where the child has moved and the state where the child most recently lived for six months would be even better. Speaking of six months, six months is crucial to remember when dealing with custody issues across state lines. If your wife recently took the child and moved out of state without your permission, the state she moved to will not fully have jurisdiction over your child for six months (like I said, it's very, very complicated). If you are going to dispute her move, you absolutely MUST file with a court before the child has been in the other state for six months. Do NOT wait until five months and three weeks have passed to speak with counsel.
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