Logo
Call Now(480)305-8300

UCCJEA Child Custody Jurisdiction in Arizona | Voted “Best of the Valley”

Posted on : January 26, 2016, By:  Christopher Hildebrand

UCCJEA Child Custody Jurisdiction in Arizona

UCCJEA Child Custody Jurisdiction in Arizona.

UCCJEA Child Custody Jurisdiction in Arizona.

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act is the law in Arizona, so it’s time you get acquainted with it. Don’t let the lengthy statute scare you away from learning about this important state law; it’s not as confusing as it looks. Arizona has perfectly good child custody rules and procedures of its own – and so do most other states. So you may wonder why Arizona (and every one of the 50 states except Massachusetts) adopted this lengthy law. The simple answer is consistency. While each state’s laws might have worked well for making initial custody decisions, they worked less well when a court in one state was asked to enforce or modify custody decisions made in another state. This often resulted in competing child custody decisions in the same divorce case – with one state giving custody to dad, then a second state modifying the order to give custody to mom.

The Uniform Act makes clear when a court has authority to enter, modify and enforce custody orders, and when it doesn’t. It’s “statement of purpose” talks in terms of avoiding competition and conflict between courts of different states, promoting cooperation between states, discouraging controversies over child custody and deterring parental abductions. But the core purpose of the act is to prevent competing custody orders.

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.
A Google User
A Google User
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.
Google User
Google User
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.
A Google User
A Google User
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!
A Google User
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
A Google User
A Google User
18:16 18 Sep 17
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.
A Google User
A Google User
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.
A Google User
A Google User
17:44 23 Jun 16
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.
Bassam Ziadeh
Bassam Ziadeh
21:20 02 Apr 18
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.
Larry Flint
Larry Flint
21:53 27 Feb 18
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.
Sam Franchimone
Sam Franchimone
22:09 12 Sep 13

Exclusive and Continuing Jurisdiction

Since the court making the first child custody order gains exclusive and continuing jurisdiction, the Uniform Act sets out exactly when a state court has jurisdiction to handle an initial custody matter. Courts have jurisdiction under the Uniform Act in this order: A state has jurisdiction if it is the home state of the child when the custody action starts; or — if the child is no longer in the state – it was the child’s home state within six months before the action started and at least one parent continues to live in the state.

Where no state fits the definition of the child’s home state, a state has jurisdiction if the child and at least one parent have a significant connection with the state – not just mere physical presence in the state – and if evidence about the child’s care, protection, training and personal relationships is available in the state. Where no state has jurisdiction under either #1 or #2 above, a state has jurisdiction to make an initial custody determination if it has an appropriate connection with the child. Note that if a child’s home state is Arizona before her family moves overseas because of one parent’s military service, Arizona remains her home state when she returns until she establishes another home state.

Hildebrand Law, PC | Voted Best of Our Valley in Arizona Foothills Magazine.

Hildebrand Law, PC | Voted Best of Our Valley in Arizona Foothills Magazine.

First Court to Act Has Authority

If courts in two separate states each have authority to hear a custody matter under the Uniform Act, “early bird catches the worm” applies. For example, an Arizona court cannot exercise its jurisdiction in a custody matter if, at the time the Arizona action is filed, another custody action has already been started in another state having jurisdiction.

Inconvenient Forum

If an Arizona court has jurisdiction to make a child custody determination, it can still decline to do so in certain circumstances. First, it can decline to exercise jurisdiction if it decides that it is an inconvenient forum and that a court of another state is a more appropriate forum. The issue can be raised by either party, the Arizona court or the court of another state. Before making this decision, an Arizona court must allow the parties to provide information on all relevant factors, including:

  • Whether domestic violence has occurred;
  • Which state could best protect the parties and the child;
  • The length of time the child lived in Arizona;
  • The distance between the Arizona court in this state and the other court;
  • The relative financial circumstances of the parties;
  • Any agreement between the parties as to which state is more convenient;
  • Where evidence is located, including the location of the child; and
  • Which court is more familiar with the facts and issues in the case.

If an Arizona court decides it is an inconvenient forum, it will stay the proceedings on the condition that a child custody proceeding is promptly commenced in the other state. In a child custody proceeding, each party must give information under oath in the first court document filed, or in an attached affidavit, as to the child’s present location, all places where the child has lived during the last five years and the names and addresses of the persons with whom the child has lived during that period. The affidavit must also give information about any other proceedings relevant to the custody case, including domestic violence matters, as well as the identification of any other persons who claim the right to custody or visitation.

Modifying Custody Orders

Interstate Child Custody Laws in Arizona.

Interstate Child Custody Laws in Arizona.

The Uniform Act’s central provisions give the court that makes the first custody order in a case exclusive and continuing jurisdiction over that order. Exclusive means no other state has authority to act; continuing means that the original court’s authority does not end until it decides it should end. The court issuing the first custody order continues to have sole authority to deal with the case until one of two things happens:

  • That court finds that the child and both parents have moved out of the state; or
  • That court determines that it should no longer have jurisdiction because another state has more contacts with the child and parents.

Note that these determinations must be made by the original court, the court that issued the first custody order, not by the court of any other state. What that means, in practical terms, is that if you are party to a custody decree in one state and you move away, you must either return to the court that issued that order and ask for a modification, or else convince that court to give up its jurisdiction by establishing that the state no longer has substantial connections with the child.

Emergency Child Custody Orders

Of course, there are exceptions built into the Uniform Act for emergency situations. If a particular custody case involves emergency situations – for example, when a child has been abandoned, or a parent or a child is in danger – the court in the state where the endangered child or parent are located has the power to make temporary custody orders to protect them. However, in order to prevent more than one court from having jurisdiction, the emergency orders are always temporary orders.

The Act makes clear that emergency orders are intended only to allow a parent in danger to keep custody of the child while she returns to the court that first determined custody. When she gets there, she can ask that court to modify the original order. The court making the emergency order must notify the other court immediately if it issues a temporary order modifying a child custody order.

Registering a Child Custody Order

A parent can register a child custody determination issued by a court of another state in Arizona by sending the Arizona court these documents:

  • A letter or another document requesting registration;
  • Two copies, including a certified copy, of the ruling to be registered and a statement under penalty of perjury that to the best of the knowledge and belief of the person seeking registration the order has not been modified; and
  • The name and address of the person seeking registration and also of any person who has been awarded custody or visitation in the child custody determination to be registered.

When the court gets the proper papers, it must register the child custody determination as a foreign judgment, and give a written notice to the persons identified as having custody or visitation rights. This gives them the chance to object to the registration or the accuracy of the information supplied the court.

 

Enforcement of Child Custody

Arizona courts have a duty to enforce the child custody orders issued in other states and registered in Arizona. The first step is for a parent to bring a certified petition seeking enforcement and attaching a certified copy of the original custody determination as well as the notice of registration. The Uniform Act is very specific about what information must be included in the petition. The papers must be served on the other party. The parent can also ask the court to issue a warrant to take physical custody of the child if the child is in danger of serious physical harm or if she might be taken out of Arizona. If the court issues the warrant, the enforcement petition must be heard the following court day. The party losing a motion to enforce the order can appeal it.

Call us at (480)305-8300 to schedule your personalized consultation with one of our experienced Phoenix and Scottsdale Arizona child custody attorneys.

 


Related Blogs – What’s Hot