Home State Custody Jurisdiction When Child Relocated to Arizona
It is not unusual for a parent who has legal custody of a child from another state to move to Arizona with their child. The question becomes which state court has home state child custody jurisdiction when a child relocated to Arizona with his or her parent? The answer to this question is important if a parent seeks to modify that child custody order in an Arizona court. The Arizona Court of Appeals in the published case of Prouty vs. Hughes answered that question for us.
Mother, in that case, was awarded sole custody of the parties’ child from a court in Illinois where the mother and child resided. Mother subsequently relocated with the child from Illinois to Arizona. Mother’s boyfriend, Mr. Hughes, filed but did not register the Illinois child custody orders in Arizona when he sought and obtained emergency custody of Mother’s child. The child’s biological father, Mr. Kafka, subsequently filed his own motion in Arizona to modify the Illinois child custody orders.
During the hearing on the natural father’s motion to modify the Illinois child custody order, the Arizona judge assigned to the case raised concerns that the Illinois child custody orders were not properly registered in Arizona under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. The child’s natural father, thereafter, registered the Illinois child custody orders in Arizona.
When that occurred, Mother fled back to Illinois with the children. The Arizona court then issued child custody orders awarding Father custody of the parties’ daughter and issuing a warrant for the return of the child to father. Mother filed for a restraining order on behalf of the child’s daughter against her father and argued, in the Illinois court, the Arizona court did not have jurisdiction to issue its child custody orders because she only lived sporadically in Arizona and because the Illinois court order was not properly domesticated in Arizona. Both the Illinois court and the Arizona court made findings that Arizona was the home state of the child and properly executed jurisdiction to modify the Illinois child custody orders.
Registration of Out of State Order Not Required to Modify Child Custody Orders
The Arizona Court of Appeals concluded that the Illinois child custody orders were not properly registered under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (i.e., “UCCJEA”) in Arizona before the Arizona judge modified the Illinois child custody orders. The next question became whether failing to properly register the Illinois child custody orders rendered the trial judge’s orders modify those orders void.
The Arizona Court of Appeals concluded that the provisions of the UCCJEA do not require a foreign state’s child custody order be properly registered in Arizona before an Arizona judge may modify those child custody orders assuming Arizona would otherwise have jurisdiction under the UCCJEA to modify those orders.
Arizona, likewise, may exercise child custody jurisdiction to modify another state’s child custody orders if either (1) the other state has determined it no longer should have child custody jurisdiction or (2) a court in Arizona determine that neither parent nor the child continues to live in the other state.
Call the experienced Scottsdale and Phoenix Arizona adoption attorneys at (480)305-8300 at Hildebrand Law, PC to learn more about adopting a child in Arizona.
Chris Hildebrand wrote this article about home state custody jurisdiction when a child is relocated to Arizona to ensure everyone has access to information about child custody laws in Arizona. Chris is a family law attorney at Hildebrand Law, PC. He has over 24 years of Arizona family law experience and has received multiple awards, including US News and World Report “Top Arizona Divorce Attorneys”, Phoenix Magazine “Top Divorce Law Firms”, and Arizona Foothills Magazine “Best of the Valley” award. He believes the policies and procedures he uses to get his clients through a child custody case should all be guided by the principles of honesty, integrity, and actually caring about what his clients are going through.