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Updated Feb 11, 2013 - 5:47 pm

Arizona Senate panel OKs child custody law changes

PHOENIX -- Parents with custody of their children who want to move across town would have to notify the other parent beforehand to give them a chance to object in court under a bill approved by an Arizona Senate committee Monday.

Current state law requires notice of a move of more than 100 miles or out of state. But the bill sponsored by Sen. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, removes the distance requirement and also requires parents to give a reason and file a copy with the court. If the noncustodial parent objects, it is the custodial parent who must then seek a court order for the move.

Barto said the purpose of the bill is to give non-custodial parents more say in their child's upbringing.

Rep. Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler, said there needs to be some changes to the move notice bill to allow someone to move some distance without triggering the notification requirement. Yarbrough, a family law lawyer, said he was responsible for crafting the current law. He joined three Democrats in a 5-4 vote against the bill, which now goes to the full Senate after a routine review.

Barto said she was working on a major amendment to address some of the issues raised at Monday's hearing.

A second Barto-sponsored bill approved by the Judiciary Committee Monday is designed to force judges to hold initial child custody hearings faster, generally within 60 days.

That bill drew a 9-0 vote and little opposition. Right now, cases can take months for an initial hearing, denying the non-custodial parent of their right to participate in their child's upbringing.

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