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P. Simmons
P. Simmons, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34087
Experience:  16 yrs. of experience including family law.
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My 25 yr old daughter with her 3 yr old son from AZ, is visiting

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My 25 yr old daughter with her 3 yr old son from AZ, is visiting us here in CA. She said that she is now realizing now how much her this 44 yr old man she's with has been lying to her. She would like to start a new life but is concerned about all the legal ramification this will entail. The father is x military and a Navajo Indian. This person also lied to our whole family and tried to brainwashed my daughter in the beginning. She just turned 21 when he got her to go with him to AZ. This person has several classic identifier as a Pathological lier.

He may be asking the Military and Navajo Indian to help get custody. My daughter and our family would not stop this person to have visitation rights but we see that the child will have more educational, moral, loving support here in CA than in AZ. The father only has a cousin near the Reservation who has several children themselves. Otherwise, he has to look for anyone to take care of him when he goes to work.

This man was married before and has two teenage children who are living with his x-wife. She has moved on and became a nurse. He does not visit these children regularly. My daughter has been going to school herself when she was in AZ and is wants to become an Accountant. She plans to continue here in CA.

He doesn't seem to be a violent man but threatens my daughter that he would get their son and bring him to AZ.

What can we do to make sure this child will be where he will be taken care of properly.

We do not know what the law is in AZ or Navaho law about custody. What can we do here from California? What should we do? ! My daughter has just decided and told us this week.

Maria Malasig
Thanks for the chance to help. I am an Arizona attorney with over 12 years experience. Hopefully I can help you with your legal question.

I can tell you unequivocally the military will not help him with this. He can ask all he likes, it will not matter, the military will not provide legal support in a contested civil mater.

Can you tell me

1. Is this man on the birth certificate?

2. How long has your daughter been in CA with you now? Prior to that she lived in AZ?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

1. Yes

2. She drove here from AZ and arrive in CA on June 10, 2013. She has lived in AZ for approx. 4 years. Prior to that, she have lived in CA most of her life.

First and foremost it is important to understand that if this goes to court, the court will decide custody based on one thing only. "What is best for the child". NOT what is best for mom, or dad, or really anyone/thing else. The court is concerned about the child.

Now, in most cases, the court will find its best if BOTH parents are in the child fact the court presume this. But the court will listen to evidence to determine how to divvy up custody. SO if there is evidence that the child is better off with one parent or another, they will consider this.

As you describe, it sounds like mom recently came to Arizona...less than 6 months ago. This is significant. That is because the law that determines what state has custody will look to where the child has lived in the last 6 months. This law is called the The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). The UCCJEA determines where jurisdiction lies if there is a dispute.

If dad files now, in AZ, it will take custody.

That is not the end all the more important issue than what state has jurisdiction is what is best for the child. So if mom can establish that the child is better off with her, the court will grant that...but this comes back to her reason for travel to CA.

If there is a reason for travel other than “trying to get away from dad” that can be grounds to allow mom to keep primary custody, giving dad visitation. So that is possible. This is OK if there is evidence dad is a danger to the child. But if there is no such evidence, then the court could look at this as an attempt to keep the child away from the father...and leaving the state would not look good in this regard. But if she has a reason for the move, for example to seek employment, to seek schooling, or even to be closer to family...all of these are reasonable and would not likely be held against her if this lands in court.

I would recommend hiring a lawyer. And filing now, in CA, for custody. This gives her the initiative. That forces him to hire a lawyer and fighting this in CA as well as AZ. It may be he does not take the time to try and keep this in AZ.

I will say if he does...if he hires an AZ lawyer and fights to keep this in AZ it is possible, under the UCCJEA the court in AZ grants this and takes jurisdiction. It is certainly possible. But if the goal is to keep mom with the child and the case in CA, I would file this in CA and ask for the court to award custody to mom (and visitation to the dad)

Let me know if you have more questions...happy to help if I can

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Initially, my daughter came to visit to attend my other sons wedding and have a little summer vacation. Sometime between the wedding and a few days ago, she told us she didnt want to go back to AZ. She wanted herself and her son to be closer to the family.


Also, if we file for custody in CA, would the courts dismiss it since they have not been a resident of CA for the past 6 months?


That 6 months is goes back to the UCCJEA.

That said, if she has moved to CA....and this is for good, she can go to court and file for custody.

Ideally, she waits till December, so she has the 6 months met.

But if she believes he will file in AZ soon, she may be better off filing first in CA.

It is going to cost money either way, unless you know a lawyer who will do this for free.

But if she can wait 6 months to get past that UCCJEA hurdle, she is in a much better position to claim CA as the home state for jurisdiction purposes
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