Transferring Your Family Law Case to Arizona

Our Arizona Family Lawyers Take a Look At How To Transfer a Family Law Case To Arizona

If you and your family have spent your whole lives in Arizona, it’s pretty clear where any family law cases would need to be filed. However, there are several circumstances that could lead to ambiguity about which state- or country- has jurisdiction over your family law case. And in some of these, it is appropriate to change venues in the midst of a divorce or custody battle. This transfer is also referred to as a change of venue. Read on to learn more about how to transfer your family law case to Arizona’s family law court division. 

Couple talking to AZ attorney about transferring their family law case to Arizona


Arizona Family Law Residency Requirements

Before you can transfer your family law case to Arizona’s court system, you must first meet Arizona’s residency requirement for the specific type of case. The residency requirement for a divorce in Arizona is 90 days. Only one spouse must be an Arizona resident for at least 90 days to meet the requirement. Either the spouse who files the petition, the petitioner, or the spouse who is served with the petition, the respondent, can be the Arizona resident in question. Military members who are stationed in Arizona for at least 90 days also meet the residency requirement. However, the residency requirement for a custody case in Arizona is 6 months. This residency requirement must also be met in order for spouses who share minor children to finalize their divorce in Arizona. 

There is one specific facet to Arizona’s divorce residency requirement that can be tricky when the spouses live in two different states. The marriage can be dissolved if the spouses live in different states and the divorce is filed in Arizona. Arizona will only have jurisdiction over the financial matters in a divorce if Arizona was the last state of matrimonial domicile, or the last state where the spouses lived together as a couple. If not, the out-of-state spouse will need to consent for Arizona to have jurisdiction over property division and other financial issues in the divorce. 

Divorce Transfer Of Venue

There are several reasons that you may want to change the state in which your divorce was filed after the fact. The court isn’t likely to grant a transfer of venue just because you have buyer’s remorse over your state’s property division laws, but that doesn’t mean a transfer of venue in a divorce is impossible. You may realize that it is inconvenient to attend divorce proceedings in your divorce’s current jurisdiction. Or, the petitioner may have inadvertently filed the divorce petition in the wrong state. 

One of the spouses will need to file a petition with the court to request a change of venue. This will explain the reasoning of why the jurisdiction should be changed. This is where you can describe the extra expenses and inconveniences you will incur if the divorce is finalized in its current venue. Simply filing a motion will be far more difficult when your case is out of state, and these effects are amplified if you require special services or assistance from the court. There are several other documents you will need to include when you file a motion for change of venue with the court. These can include a Proposed Order for Change of Venue, Proof of Service, and more. The motion for change of venue should be filed in the state in which your divorce case is currently located. Before pursuing a change of venue for your divorce, you should consult with a family law attorney in that jurisdiction. 

Child Custody Change Of Venue

As mentioned above, a child must reside in Arizona for 6 months before there is jurisdiction for a custody case here. When there are multiple states involved, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act comes into effect. This law only provides limited exceptions to the six months rule. However, the parents may eventually need a modification for their custody orders. The modification doesn’t necessarily need to occur in the same state in which the initial custody orders originated. Generally, the original state will have jurisdiction over the case unless it officially relinquishes jurisdiction to another state where jurisdiction would be appropriate. This would typically be when the child and the parent with primary custody have relocated to a new state and met its residency requirements. 

Transferring a custody case could create complications for child support orders in certain circumstances. Interstate child support issues are also governed by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. Just because a state has jurisdiction over a custody case doesn’t necessarily mean the state has the power to order a parent to pay child support. In general, the parent must reside or have resided in the state ordering child support, or have some significant interest there, e.g., conducting business in the state. That means that if one parent and the child move to an entirely new state, it is unlikely that they can obtain a child support order against the other parent in that state. 

Paternity Action Jurisdiction

Your family law case may be even more difficult if paternity has not yet been established, and the asserted father lives out of state. Surprisingly, jurisdiction doesn’t automatically go to the state in which the child resides. The state in which the child was conceived may actually have jurisdiction over the case. Jurisdiction may also be in the state in which the father currently resides. This can make family law cases arising out of this situation tricky. For example, a child is conceived in Texas, but the mother and child eventually move to Arizona. The mother would most likely need to file to establish paternity in Texas, not Arizona. However, any ensuing child support and child custody actions would need to occur in Arizona if the residency requirement is met. 

Call Our Arizona Family Attorneys For Assistance

Whether you’re looking to transfer your family law case in or out of Arizona, you probably need to speak with a seasoned Arizona family lawyer before filing anything with the court. This will give you a chance to learn more about your rights and obligations under Arizona law before making any decisions that could be permanent. You may also decide that you want an experienced, knowledgeable attorney representing you throughout this process. If so, our dedicated Arizona family law attorneys offer affordable rates with payment plans that make high quality legal representation more affordable for everyone. To learn more, call (480) 263-1699 or use our online form to schedule your free consultation today.



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