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Jurisdiction for Dependency Petitions

Posted on : February 13, 2017, By:  Christopher Hildebrand
Jurisdiction for Dependency Petitions

Jurisdiction for Dependency Petitions

Under the Uniform Child Custody Act, a child’s domicile is usually that of his parents. Residence at the beginning of a case determines the court’s jurisdiction. That is, if parents and a child live in Arizona at the start of a case, Arizona has jurisdiction. What happens if parents live in Arizona when they file a dependency case, but they then move away? In David S. v. Audilio S., 32 P.3d 417 (2001), the Arizona Court of Appeals discussed this issue.

Facts of the Case

In 1999, Mr. Serrano and Mrs. Serrano brought a dependency petition. They charged that their son A. Serrano was dependent as to them. The teenager was living at a residential treatment facility in Cochise County, Arizona. The parents claimed that A. Serrano fought with Mrs. Serrano and had attacked her. They said they were unable to care for him because of his violence. They asked the court to award legal custody of him to the Arizona Department of Economic Security (ADES).

At an initial dependency hearing in February 2000, the court noted that the parents had since moved to Louisiana. Although the court denied ADES’s motion to dismiss, it changed venue to the county where A. Serrano was residing.

In June 2000, the Cochise County court held a hearing. Mr. Serrano and Mrs. Serrano argued that the court should hear the dependency proceeding. The court wasn’t confident about the status of the case or whether ADES was involved in this matter. It declined to order services for A. Serrano.

In August, the court held another review hearing. A. Serrano’s counsel asked the court to dismiss the dependency petition for lack of jurisdiction. The court ruled that A. Serrano was not domiciled in Arizona. It found he was domiciled in Louisiana since the parents had moved there. It concluded that A. Serrano’s home was that of his parents and granted the motion to dismiss. Mr. Serrano and Mrs. Serrano appealed.

Jurisdiction for Dependency Petitions.

Jurisdiction for Dependency Petitions.

Domicile Is Determined At the Beginning of the Action

Mr. Serrano and Mrs. Serrano argue that the court should not have dismissed the dependency petition. They claim that the tribunal had jurisdiction when the petition was filed. At that time, both they and their son were living in Arizona. The court, they claim, was obligated to retain jurisdiction.

Also, under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, a state has jurisdiction over a child domiciled in the state at the start of the action. Under Arizona law, whether a court has jurisdiction is determined as of the commencement of the proceeding. Here, when the petition was filed, the parents and their son were domiciled in Arizona. Mr. Serrano and Mrs. Serrano moved to Louisiana, but that did not deprive the juvenile court of jurisdiction since A. Serrano remains in Arizona.

A. Serrano argues that a child’s domicile for purposes of determining venue is the residence of the parents. But, a child who is present in Arizona and was domiciled here when a dependency petition was filed, may still be the subject of a dependency proceeding in this state.

The juvenile court never conducted a dependency hearing. It found it lacked jurisdiction to do so. Most of A. Serrano’s arguments go to the merits of the petition and are thus premature.

Disposition

The Court of Appeals concluded that the court erred in granting A. Serrano’s motion to dismiss the dependency petition for lack of jurisdiction. It reversed the juvenile court’s order and remanded for further proceedings.

Jennifer, thank you for being my attorney. I could not have been more pleased with the outcome of my family court hearing. Everything you have done for me throughout this case reflects in the final ruling of the judge. You helped me keep my head together and taught me a lot about myself as a person. I learned so much about my life from observing and listening to you. I will take all the advice you gave me to continue taking responsibility for my choices, continue to put the kids' needs first, and always stay truthful. Your diligence, dedication, and persistence in my case made what seemed impossible, possible. You are a wonderful person and an amazing attorney and I am stronger and more confident because of you.
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20:31 20 Sep 17
I just want to again thank the Firm for working with me all that it has. I could not have done anything without everyone's assistance. You, Chris and Stacey have been and continue to provide me with compassion and hard work towards my case. Also a very special thanks to Kip for taking my case in the beginning. Also continued support from him and his dedication to providing me with his expertise in this matter.
A Google User
A Google User
21:41 07 Nov 17
After interviewing several law firms, I came across Jennifer Shick, and her firm, who I hired to represent me for my Family Court case. Jennifer has extensive knowledge of the law and is determined to bring the truth to every issue involved within the case. Throughout my case, Jennifer was prepared meticulously as well as went above and beyond all of my expectations. Even when the other party tried to differ from the truth, lie to the Judge, and turn situations around, Jennifer remained attentive and provided substantial evidence to show the judge the facts as well as the proof to support what was the best interests of my children. Additionally, Jennifer helped me endure many difficult experiences, situations and inspired me to remain positive throughout the entirety of my case. Her kindness, compassion, and professionalism helped me through very difficult times and made the process feel a thousand times lighter on my shoulders. She truly has my children and my best interest at heart and I trust her perspective as well as her honesty on each and every aspect of my case. She lessened the burden on my shoulders and even when I felt like the case was not going to go in my favor, Jennifer was open-minded and reassured me that the Judge would, in fact, see the truth, which he did and the case went in my favor. After nine months of court, everything finally came together. I cannot declare how much Jennifer has been an outstanding attorney. She addressed each and every issue with diligence, she cares about her clients and their families. Jennifer genuinely cares about her clients and her dedication to the details of the case was remarkable. Overall, I am extremely pleased with Jennifer’s services and I am truly thankful that I was so blessed to have her represent my children and me. I highly recommend Jennifer as one of the best attorneys in Arizona and if the situation ever arises, I will definitely have her represent my children and me again.
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14:58 04 Oct 17
Dear Stacey and Kip, How can I ever thank you enough for helping me through the most difficult time in my life? I couldn't put into words my heartfelt gratefulness. You both were so compassionate and professional at every given moment throughout this process with me. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You helped me to regain my freedom.
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16:03 22 Nov 17
I was a client of Attorney Kevin Park for the dissolution of a divorce in 2016. And since I had never had the need to hire an attorney before for any purpose, I was somewhat apprehensive of the process. But the very calm and professional demeanor of Mr. Park eased my fears. He adeptly answered all my questions and I clearly knew the process and what to expect. And the skilled manner he communicated with opposing counsel was perfect. When it came down to negotiating with my spouse’s counsel, I knew I had selected the best attorney for my situation. What I noticed and appreciated was that he was using just the right amount of pressure with opposing counsel as was necessary. If you find yourself in this situation, you will want a seasoned professional like Mr. Park on your side. I'm very grateful that he was my attorney and not the opposition!
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A Google User
22:14 28 Jun 17
Chris is a smart and aggressive attorney for his clients. Chris always tries to reach a fair settlement of his cases. I’ve represented clients when Chris was the opposing counsel and while he is professional and amicable to work with, he does not back off on what he needs to do for his client
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18:16 18 Sep 17
Kevin Park of Hildebrand Law was just what I needed for my divorce. He was very approachable and personable. He was quick to recognize what I needed and provided it quickly and efficiently. I hope to never need a divorce lawyer again, but if I know anyone else who does, I will definitely recommend Kevin.
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19:22 23 Aug 17
I feel that Tracey Van Wickler is certainly one of the best family lawyers around. She is logical, intelligent, and truly cares. Tracey always does what is in the clients best interest, does it well, timely and with integrity. She is good at keeping her clients informed as to what is going on and clear in her communication both written and verbally. I have recommended Tracey to other people and will continue to recommend her. I recommended Tracey to someone who was having issues with their ex-wife and his response was, “I know how good she is because I went up against her and she ate me for lunch”. This same person was so impressed with her, he even recommended her to someone else, WOW, that is impressive! I am exceptionally happy with her attention to detail, her ability to explain things in ways that are easy to understand, as well as her ability to keep everyone focused on the most important things. I would recommend Tracey to anyone who may be in need of her services.
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