Significant Domestic Violence and Sole Custody in Arizona | Voted “Best of the Valley”
Posted on : December 22, 2015, By: Christopher Hildebrand
Significant Domestic Violence and Sole Custody in Arizona
Significant Domestic Violence and Sole Custody in Arizona.
Many parents have questions regarding the impact of significant domestic violence and sole custody in Arizona. Sole custody orders issued by an Arizona judge may be appealed to the Arizona Court of Appeals, which will review the case to determine if there were apparent errors in interpreting the law in regards to the situation at hand or a trial judge’s abuse of his or her discretion. Elizabeth Hurd and Heber J. Hurd were married in 1995 and had three children (all of which are minors as of the court proceedings here related). On October 26, 2004, there was an incident of violence reported on behalf of the two older children in which children told an emergency room nurse that their father hurt them. Police were contacted. The mother advised authorities she had been too afraid to report previous incidents. At this point, the mother and the children moved to Idaho.
In December of 2004, the father moved to Idaho. While in Idaho, the two oldest children attended counseling to address distress in relation to traumatic experiences and witnessing abuse and violence. In June 2005 the father moved back to Arizona. In August 2005 the mother and children moved back to Arizona as well. In November 2005 the parties became involved in disputes regarding care of their minor children. The mother obtained an Order of Protection (OOP). The father was prohibited from seeing the children. In December 2005, the father filed for dissolution of marriage and sought joint custody of the minor children. Mother responded by seeking supervised parenting time for the father based on allegations of a history of domestic violence and the Order of Protection that was still in place. Temporary orders were issued granting the father supervised parenting time three times each week.
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After interviews with Conciliation Services, it was agreed that the father would have the three minor children on Sundays. Shortly after this time, the mother lost her job and she moved herself and the children into a family shelter in October 2006. She filed a petition to relocate with the children to Wisconsin in order to be closer to the family. In November 2006, the mother obtained a new job, but she and the children stayed in the family shelter until February 2007. A trial was held on January 16, 2007, to consider custody and relocation issues. The father continued to have supervised parenting time with the three minor children.
A petition was filed on February 16, 2007, the father alleged that the mother was not bringing the children to his supervised parenting time at the father’s church as agreed. A hearing on this petition occurred on March 14, 2007, at which the mother was found in contempt for reasons stated. The court did not find her in contempt of any additional orders and refused father’s request for sanctions in response to the situation. The court awarded the mother sole legal custody of the children and allowed her to relocate with the children to Wisconsin at the end of the school year (2006-7). The court’s decision was based on the “significant history of domestic violence.” The court found that the mother had been a victim of domestic violence at the hands of the father while the children were present.
The trial court also found that the children had been victims of domestic violence. It was ordered that the children receive counseling. The father was awarded unsupervised parenting time. A long-distance parenting plan was set in place to take effect at the end of the school year when the mother and children relocated. The father responded to the decision by filing an appeal.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
Kevin Park of Arizona Estate Planning Attorneys 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.
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.
I retained Hildebrand Law after interview a number of firms in the valley. Working with Michael C. was incredibly easy and informative. My case progressed in such a organized and thought out way to ensure that my needs were met. Michael was incredibly proactive and was able to see far ahead into my case to steer clear of some roadblocks. I would not hesitate to recommend Michael Clancy, and Hildebrand Law in general, to anyone.
I have worked with Hildebrand law for about 8 years. They are always ready to serve, provide guidance and give you a few options. When they provide you options they also take the time to walk you through the pros and cons of each and give you a recommendation of what is best, but will listen to you and support whatever course you choose after making and educated choice. I’d recommend them to my closest friends and feel Chris Hildebrand is now a friend to me.
Despite the unfortunate situation I found myself in, Chris Hildebrand @ Hildebrand Law helped me maneuver every step with professionalism, expertise, and even a sensitivity that was an added bonus.Chris and his staff helped me even when I didn't know I needed the help. In other words. . . they made sure we did not leave anything undone. And in the rare instance we needed the expertise of another professional, Chris knew exactly who to recommend.Chris also knew, because of his experience, what to anticipate down the road of litigation. That meant we were better prepared to meet the challenges head on, which lead to a more equitable and fair outcome. I appreciated that Chris did his best to meet my every need in a timely fashion, even if I had a simple question that required only a phone call or e-mail or if we needed to talk face-to-face.I highly recommend Chris Hildebrand @ Hildebrand Law, PC.
Sole Custody Awarded When Significant Domestic Violence Occurs
The father alleges the court abused its discretion in awarding sole custody to the children’s mother stating that the court failed to make detailed findings of fact. He also denied a “significant history of domestic violence.” It is the findings of this court that there was sufficient evidence to support the family court’s findings of a “significant history of domestic violence”, including records of hospital visits, police reports, counseling records, etc. Thus the family court did not err when awarding sole custody of the children to the mother and specifically declining to award joint custody. The custody award was affirmed.
The Arizona Court of Appeals in this decision went so far as to say that the trial court was no longer required to even consider any of the other statutory factors normally required to be considered by the court once the Court made a finding of the existence of domestic violence or a significant history of domestic violence. Once that finding is made, the trial court is precluded by Arizona from awarding the perpetrator of that domestic violence from being awarded custody of the children. In regards to the decision allowing the mother to relocate at the end of the school year with the children, the father claimed that the decision was an abuse of discretion because the court focused solely on the benefits the mother would gain rather than what was in the children’s best interests or how it would affect parenting time on the part of the father.
While the court heard testimony regarding the benefits of the relocation for the children, i.e. a support system, better schools, lower costs of living, etc., there is also evidence weighing against the move. The lack of a good support system in Arizona is an issue that should be addressed as it was found that the father owed approximately $28,000 in child support arrearages indicating a lack of adequate support from the father. But that fact is not enough to support the decision of the court regarding relocation.
The court abused its discretion on this matter by failing to find specific evidence of applicable statutory factors and reasons that make the relocation to be in the children’s best interests. Reserving comment on the merits of claims made previously, the relocation order is vacated and remanded to family court for additional findings in compliance with Arizona law. The father’s request for attorneys’ fees and costs in relation to the appeal were denied as financial information regarding both parties is unavailable and the mother did not appear to make any unreasonable demands on appeal.
The appellate court held that the family court did not abuse its discretion regarding the award of sole custody to the mother of the three minor children. The appellate court did vacate the family court decision regarding the relocation of the children to Wisconsin and remand for additional findings that are consistent with Arizona law.
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