questions & answers
Question: We are divorced and both relocating to Phoenix--what do we need to do in order to have our child custody agreement be under Arizona jurisdiction once we've established residency?
The process of "filing in" a foreign order or decree (i.e. one from out of state) with the Arizona courts so that the Arizona courts can enforce/recognize it, is called the "domestication process." The steps in the process are governed by statute. The general steps to domesticate a foreign divorce decree in Arizona are as follows:
(1) First, contact the court that originally issued your divorce decree and child custody order and ask the clerk of that court for "authenticated" copies of the documents. (Authentication requires a specific seal or a certain number of seals affixed to the copies by the clerk - it is dictated by statute).
(2) Once you have authenticated copies of the documents you want to domesticate (i.e. decree/child custody orders) - then you will need to prepare a separate document entitled "Notice and Affidavit of Filing Foreign Decree". You should review the requirements of this pleading that are set forth in ARS § 12-1703. Generally, the "Notice and Affidavit" will:
- State your name; your current address;
- The other party's name; the other party's address; and;
- Identify the "foreign decree" you are filing with the Court (i.e. Divorce Decree from the State of "X" County of Y dated "Z", Child Custody Order dated "Q").
You will need to sign the "Notice and Affidavit" before a notary public.
(3) Take the notarized "Notice and Affidavit" and the authenticated copies of the decree/custody order to the Clerk of the Superior Court (Family Court Case filing). You will need to fill out a "cover sheet" for a new "Family Court" case.
(4) Present to the clerk of the family court (1) the Family Court Cover Sheet, (2) the "original" authenticated documents plus 2 additional copies (Note: do not remove the staples of the authenticated documents when making copies) and (3) the original and two additional copies of the "Notice and Affidavit" for filing . The filing fee is currently $206.00 in Maricopa County, Arizona. The clerk will assign a Family Court Case number for your matter.
(5) After you have filed everything, you need to mail copies of all the filed documents to the other party (i.e. your ex-wife). You must then file what is called a "Proof of Mailing" with the court. (See, ARS § 12-1703B). A proof of mailing avows to the court that the documents (*specifically identify each of them*) were mailed on a specific date to a specific party (i.e. your ex wife) at a specific address. Usually, when proof of mailings are required, it recommended that you mail the documents by certified or restricted mail so that you can attach a mailing receipt to the proof of mailing. Read the statutes carefully to be sure that the requirements are met.
(6) You are then required to wait twenty days from the date of mailing before commencing any action regarding the domesticated orders (i.e. to enforce, modify, etc).
We are divorced and both relocating to Phoenix--what do we need to do in order to have our child custody agreement be under Arizona jurisdiction once we've established residency?
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