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Use of the UCCJEA in Dependency Cases in Arizona

Posted on : September 12, 2016, By:  Christopher Hildebrand
Use of the UCCJEA in Dependency Cases in Arizona

Use of the UCCJEA in Dependency Cases in Arizona

Under Arizona law, a dependent child is one whose parents are not taking appropriate care of him/her. It includes a child who is destitute or not provided with the necessities of life. It also includes a child whose home is unfit. This could be because of abuse, neglect, cruelty or depravity by a parent. In the case, Willie G. v. Arizona Dept. of Economic Sec., 119 P. 3d 1034, (2005), the Arizona Court of Appeals addressed dependent child issues.

Dependent Children: Facts of the Case

Use of the UCCJEA in Dependency Cases Arizona.

Use of the UCCJEA in Dependency Cases Arizona.

Husband and wife are the parents of a daughter who was born in 2001. State agencies declared the daughter, as well as wife’s four older children, dependent children. The relevant agencies are the Arizona Department of Economic Security (ADES) and Child Protective Services (CPS).

Before the daughter was born, these Arizona agencies took wife’s four older children into protective custody. The juvenile court determined these children to be dependent children; meaning they were dependent upon the State of Arizona for their care.

Soon after the daughter’s birth, these agencies filed a dependency petition for her in the juvenile court. The juvenile court adjudicated daughter dependent as to both wife and husband in September 2001; meaning the court decided they were unfit to care for the child. Both parents appealed and the court reversed the determination as to the daughter.

The daughter was back in husband and wife’s custody in December 2002. The agencies returned two other children to wife in February 2004. However, wife and husband still did not have jobs or independent housing.

Their plan was to move to Kentucky to live with an aunt. However, the juvenile court denied permission for wife and husband to take the two older children to Kentucky. Nonetheless, the couple took all three children and left Arizona for Kentucky.

The agencies picked up the two older children from a motel in Texas. They again filed a dependency petition as to the daughter. This time, they obtained a court order authorizing CPS to take her into custody.

CPS picked the daughter up and placed her in a temporary foster home with the other two children. Wife and husband did not return to Arizona. They continued to live in Kentucky without the children.

UCCJEA in Dependency Cases in Arizona.

UCCJEA in Dependency Cases in Arizona.

The parents asked for permission to appear telephonically at the dependency hearing. The juvenile court denied this request. At the hearing, the juvenile court found daughter to be a dependent child. Both parents appealed.

Jurisdiction of Court

Husband and Wife argue that the court lacked authority to take their daughter into custody in Texas for an Arizona dependency proceeding. They argued the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) does not apply in these circumstances.

Both Arizona and Texas adopted the UCCJEA. The uniform law includes dependency proceedings among the various proceedings to which it applies. Under the law, the home state of the child has jurisdiction to make a child custody determination.

Here, Arizona was clearly the daughter’s “home state”. She was born in Arizona and lived there all her life. This included the six consecutive months before the dependency proceeding began. Even when her parents took her to Texas, Arizona remained her home state for UCCJEA purposes. No other state qualified as her home state.

Given that, the Court rejected husband and wife’s jurisdictional argument.

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
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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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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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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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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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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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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.
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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.
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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

Court’s Ruling Refusing Parents’ Appearance by Telephone

The Parents argued the court should have allowed them to participate in the hearing by phone. They claim an abuse of discretion by the judge and a violation of their due process rights. However, Arizona law says that a juvenile court “may” permit telephonic testimony. It is not required to permit this type of appearance. It has the authority to refuse permission.

In this case, the parents chose to leave Arizona, against an existing court order, with the daughter and her half-siblings. When the children were returned to Arizona, the parents chose to move to Kentucky without them. The juvenile court found the parents’ absence was entirely voluntary. The Court of Appeals found the trial court’s reasoning correct and appropriate.

Since the absence was voluntary, the court ruling did not violate their due process rights.

Evidence Supporting Dependency Finding

Husband and wife next argue that no evidence supports the court’s findings that their daughter was dependent as to husband. However, the appellate court reviewed the evidence piece by piece. It found husband and wife’s lack of stable housing, employment, and income to be important evidence.

Use of UCCJEA in Dependency Cases in Arizona.

Use of UCCJEA in Dependency Cases in Arizona.

Likewise, evidence showed that husband had marijuana in the Texas hotel room when the kids were recovered. He was arrested for possession of the drug at that time.

Also, the daughter had a bruise on her back that she said came from being kicked by her mother. She also said her mother hit and kicked her in the stomach. She also had bite marks and said her mother bit her.

These injuries were evidence of husband’s failure to protect her from abuse. In addition, the husband stated that neither he nor his wife would submit to random drug test. He also said that wife would not seek mental health services in Kentucky. He said she did not need either.

The Court found that all this evidence supported the juvenile court’s findings of dependency. They support its conclusion that the daughter was dependent as to both wife and husband.

Disposition

The Court of Appeals affirmed the juvenile court’s ruling that daughter was dependent as to both husband and wife.



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