by Sarah Van Voorhis and Ariel Sosna
Usually, when one parent wants to move with the children closer to the other parent who lives out of state, the out-of-state parent has no objection. However, Steve Nash of the L.A. Lakers is objecting. Nash and his ex-wife, Alejandra Amarilla, have been litigating issues around their children for two years. The latest request from Amarilla is to move the children from Arizona to California, where Nash resides. In an odd twist, Nash is trying to prevent his ex-wife from moving the children closer to him despite the fact that when he joined the Lakers, he stated that one of the benefits was that he be able to remain close to his children. Now, he’s changing his tune and the two are lawyering up in both Arizona and California.
In California, assuming Nash and Amarilla have a final custody order from their divorce, the court would look at whether there has been a change in circumstances to suggest Amarilla’s proposed move is in the children’s best interests. Marriage of Burgess (1996) 13 Cal.4th 25, 37-38. Amarilla does not have to show the move is necessary (Burgess), but one of the important issues raised in these move requests is whether there is a plan to ensure frequent and continuing contact between the non-moving parent and the children and whether the move is an attempt to frustrate that parent-child relationship. In Marriage of LaMusga (2004) 32 Cal.4th 1072. In this case, it would seem obvious that Amarilla will be able to show her move will likely improve the father-children relationship. So why is Nash opposing it? The most obvious answer appears to be child support.
Back in 2010, an Arizona court ruled that Nash does not have to pay child support for his three children. Instead, Nash pays for a variety of other expenses like nannies, private school, etc. According to TMZ, were this case to come to California as a result of the move, Nash would owe considerable child support here. If Nash will owe child support in California, that’s a logical reason for opposing the move. Given his relationship with Amarilla, Nash should also be fearful of the proliferation of celebrity ex-wife reality shows coming from Hollywood. Keeping Amarilla away from Hollywood would seem like a good idea for him.
Whether or not Nash would succeed in his attempt to stop the move would depend on whether he could show the court that it is in the children’s best interests not to move. To support his position, Nash will likely argue that continuity of schooling and child care are good reasons to disallow the move. No matter what the law on moving is in Arizona, Nash is going to have to walk a fine line so the court believes his objection is really about his children’s well-being and not the well-being of his wallet.
About the authors:
Sarah Van Voorhis, a Certified Family Law Specialist, and Ariel Sosna are founding partners of Van Voorhis & Sosna.