Modification of Child Custody Orders Involving a Child Abduction in Arizona
Generally, an Arizona divorce court determines custody issues if the children are before the court. What if the children are only before the court because they were abducted by a noncustodial parent? The Arizona Court of Appeals discussed this issue in the case Stuard v. Bean, 554 P.2d 1293 (1976).
Facts and Background
Mr. Ziglar and Mrs. Ziglar married in Alabama and had two daughters. Mr. Ziglar’s mother, Mrs. Stuard, also lived in Alabama. When Mr. Ziglar and his wife had marital problems, Mr. Ziglar asked his mother (Mrs. Stuard) to take custody of the girls. She agreed and the girls went to live with her in February 1975.
Several months later, the Alabama circuit court awarded legal custody of the girls to Mrs. Stuard. In the meantime, Mrs. Ziglar moved to Arizona and obtained a divorce in Cochise County. The divorce order did not rule on custody. It said that custody must be determined under Alabama law since the children were not in Arizona.
Soon after the divorce, Mrs. Ziglar married Mr. Lindo. She then went to court in Alabama to try to regain custody of the two girls. The Alabama court ordered that the girls stay with Mrs. Stuard while it investigated the Lindo and Stuard households. However, the court allowed Mrs. Ziglar to have the children for a weekend.
That weekend, Mrs. Ziglar and her new husband took the children to Arizona and did not return them to Alabama. Mrs. Ziglar petitioned the Arizona court in Pinal County for a temporary child custody order. She also asked it to amend the decree issued in Cochise County.
Mr. Ziglar and his mother came to Arizona with the Alabama orders and returned the girls to Alabama. However, four hooded persons abducted the two girls and returned them to Arizona. Mr. Ziglar and his mother returned to Arizona and petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus, which was issued. It directed that the two girls be placed in the custody of a justice of the peace, pending a hearing.
Mr. Ziglar and Mrs. Stuard asked the court to order that the Alabama court had initial child custody jurisdiction and that the Cochise County court did not. At that hearing, the Pinal County court declined to rule on whether the Cochise County court had child custody jurisdiction. It said the court in Cochise County should make that ruling. It ordered the children to remain with juvenile authorities in Pinal County until the Cochise County court ruled on that issue.
Mr. Ziglar and Mrs. Stuard brought this special action. It challenges the refusal of the Arizona court to decide the jurisdictional issue.
Procedure When Children Abducted
The Court of Appeals first considered whether a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus was the proper procedural device here. It determined that it was the appropriate procedure when children have been taken from the person having legal custody.
It next ruled that the court failed to act appropriately when it declined to rule on the jurisdictional issue. The Court of Appeals looked at the issue itself. It determined that the Arizona courts did not have jurisdiction to modify the Alabama child custody orders. As to whether the Arizona courts have jurisdiction to decide permanent custody of the children, the court reviews Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-331.
Under that statute, it was improper for the real parties in interest to attempt to invoke the jurisdiction of the Arizona courts after having obtained custody of the children by abducting them from Alabama and returning them to this state.
Arizona case law, embodied in the case of Application of Stone states “… except for the most compelling reasons the Arizona courts will not exercise jurisdiction to affect a custody decree, rendered by a sister state, having jurisdiction over the subject matter and parties thereto, where the party petitioning our courts for relief has wrongfully retained such custody in Arizona for the purpose of frustrating a sister state’s lawful decree.”
The Court concluded that Mrs. Ziglar acted improperly in asking the Arizona courts to rule on custody of children she abducted. Arizona courts will not exercise jurisdiction in this type of case. To do so would encourage kidnapping and contempt for court orders of another state.
The Court of Appeals found that Arizona did not have jurisdiction to determine permanent custody of the two children. The lower court should have made this ruling. The Court ordered the lower court to restore custody of the two children to Mrs. Stuard.
If you have questions about modification of custody and child abduction in an Arizona divorce case, you should seriously consider contacting the attorneys at Hildebrand Law, PC. Our Arizona child custody and family law attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience successfully representing clients in child custody and family law cases.
Our family law firm has earned numerous awards such as US News and World Reports Best Arizona Family Law Firm, US News and World Report Best Divorce Attorneys, “Best of the Valley” by Arizona Foothills readers, and “Best Arizona Divorce Law Firms” by North Scottsdale Magazine.
Call us today at (480)305-8300 or reach out to us through our appointment scheduling form to schedule your personalized consultation and turn your Arizona child custody or family law case around today.
More Articles About Child Custody in Arizona
- Access to a Child’s Medical Records in Arizona
- Adoption Attorneys in Arizona
- Required Affidavit in a Child Custody Case in Arizona
- Are Mothers Favored Custody Battles in Arizona
- Arizona Child Custody Attorneys
- Arizona Child Custody Statutes
- Arizona Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act Statutes
- Changing a Child’s Last Name in Arizona
- Changing Child Custody in Arizona
- Child Custody and Child Support in Arizona
- Child Custody In Arizona
- Child Custody Laws in Arizona
- Child Custody Rights in Arizona
- Co-Parenting After Divorce in Arizona
- Custody of a Child to Grandparent in Arizona
- Delegation of Custody Decisions in Arizona
- Divorce and Grandparents Visitation in Arizona
- Effective Co-Parenting in Arizona
- Emergency Child Custody in Arizona
- Emergency Child Custody Orders in Arizona
- Enforce Parenting Time or Custody in Arizona
- Enforce Visitation Non-Custodial Parent in Arizona
- Grandparent’s Rights in Arizona
- How is Child Custody Determined in Arizona
- How to Change a Child’s Last Name in Arizona
- How to Enforce Parenting Time in Arizona
- How to Get Sole Custody in Arizona
- How to Modify Child Custody in Arizona
- How to Modify Visitation in Arizona
- Joint Custody and School Decisions in Arizona
- Joint Custody vs Sole Custody Arizona
- Joint Legal Custody or Joint Decision Making in Arizona
- Modifying Visitation With a Child in Arizona
- Moving Children Many Times in Arizona
- Order of Protection and Child Custody in Arizona
- Parent Information Program Class in Arizona
- Parent Move Out of State With A Child From Arizona
- Parental Alienation in Arizona
- Prepare for Child Custody Evaluation in Arizona
- Presumption of Equal Parenting Time in Arizona
- Restrictions in Arizona on Taking Children to Another Country
- Sole Legal Custody or Sole Decision Making in Arizona
- Sole or Joint Custody in Arizona
- Temporary Child Custody in Arizona
- Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act in Arizona
- What Are the Child Custody Factors in Arizona
- What Determines Child Custody in Arizona
- What is a Child Custody Evaluation in Arizona
- What is a Parenting Coordinator in an Arizona Child Custody Case
- What Is Domestic Violence in Arizona
- What Types of Child Custody Are There in Arizona
- What Visitation or Parenting Time Schedules do Judges Order in Arizona
- Who Has Custody of Children When a Divorce is Filed in Arizona
- Who Is the Best Child Custody Lawyer in Arizona
- Withholding Child From Custodial Parent in Arizona
Chris Hildebrand wrote the information on this page about Child abduction and child custody modification in Arizona to ensure everyone has access to information about family law in Arizona. Chris is a divorce and 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 divorce should all be guided by the principles of honesty, integrity, and, quite frankly, actually caring about what his clients are going through in a divorce or family law case. In short, his practice is defined by the success of his clients. He also manages all of the other attorneys at his firm to make sure the outcomes in their clients’ cases are successful as well.