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This is a Family Law question. My "spouse" moved to Arizona…

This is a Family Law...
This is a Family Law question. My "spouse" moved to Arizona from Florida almost a year ago and will not allow me to see my daughter. That's right I haven't held her in a year. There is no custody agreement or legal documentation what so ever establishing custody. I have recently relocated to North Carolina as my career required relocation. I have attempted several times to make arrangements to see my daughter which have all failed. How can I see my daughter soon?
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Answered in 1 minute by:
11/15/2017
Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 32,264
Experience: Attorney with experience in family law.
Verified

Hi,

I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear about your situation. When you put spouse in quotes, is that because you don't currently have a relationship, or because you're not legally married? There are different processes for unmarried couples with children.
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
We are still legally married for 7 + years

Thank you.

Because she's been living in Arizona with your daughter for more than 6 months, Arizona is the state with jurisdiction. In order to request a custody order, the first step is to file for divorce. The no fault grounds is that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. That's typically the fastest way to proceed.

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When you file for divorce, you can include a Motion for Temporary Custody/Visitation. The judge will determine custody based on what is in the best interests of the child. There's a preference in the law for shared custody, but that's tough when living in different states. The judge will try to set up something so you can see the child regularly. The judge can also order phone calls or video chats. I know it's not the same, but it is better than nothing.

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In Arizona, different counties tend to have different forms. The divorce has to be filed where your wife is living. This site is your starting point. It has links to all the counties with their own forms, and also a link to a statewide site for counties that don't.

http://www.azcourts.gov/selfservicecenter/Self-Service-Forms

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
I've been getting video chats regularly. The issue here is I've been providing 1000$ of support monthly and have still not seen my child. The mother will only allow me to see my daughter if I fly to Arizona and again with her supervision. How can Arizona be the legal residence of the child if she took the child there against my wishes and refused to bring her back?
Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Do I not have the same full custody rights to the child of we are still legally married?

Because you didn't take action before the child lived there for six months. If you had, residence would still be in Florida. You have equal custody rights. That means your rights can't trump hers, and hers can't trump yours. Whoever has the child physically wins until there's a court order. Going to court is the way to enforce your rights.

Take a look at this calculator to see how much you should actually have to pay.

https://www.azcourts.gov/familylaw/Child-Support-Calculator-Information

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Supervised visitation is typically reserved for situations where the parent has a history of drug or alcohol abuse, child abuse, or other violent criminal history. In most ordinary cases, a judge isn't going to say she has to supervise you. And depending on how old the child is, she can visit you in your home. You can also use your wife's behavior to establish why you should be the primary custodial parent. You don't have to agree to let your wife keep her at all.
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Ok I understand, so if Iflew to Arizona and took my daughter to North Carolina and went "off the grid" for six monthsas she did then call her one day and say hey I've been in North Carolina my daughter has been her for 6 months this is now her legal home then what? That essentially what was done to me? I'm not understanding how it's ok to take the child and leave without consent.

Technically, yes. Except your wife could go to court in Arizona the day after you left and file for an emergency custody order naming her the sole custodial parent. She could then call North Carolina police, show them the order, and ask them to go pick your daughter up. She could also pursue kidnapping charges if you didn't return her after being notified of the order.

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It's legal because the vast majority of Americans don't want government involved in the intimate details of their private lives. So we don't have laws dictating behavior between married couples (with obvious exceptions for things like domestic violence).

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
there is no way for me to immediately get visitation of my daughter?
Customer reply replied 8 months ago
why can't I file for a divorce in the state that I live
If you have reason to believe that she is in immediate physical danger, you could fly to Arizona and file a Complaint for Divorce along with an Emergency Motion for Temporary Custody.

Otherwise, the sooner you file the documents, the sooner you'll get to see her. But a temporary order can take a few weeks, and courts tend to slow around the holidays.

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The state where you live has no jurisdiction to determine child custody when your daughter doesn't live there. You could get a divorce. But you wouldn't be able to get a custody order, so it doesn't help you with what you most want to do.

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Ok so I can't get any type of custody order without filing for divorce

That is unfortunately true. Courts can't grant a custody order while you're still married. But you can get a temporary order without waiting for the entire divorce to be resolved.

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
filing a divorce in my state custody wouldn't be addressed at all?

If the judge is aware that your daughter lives in Arizona, no. Also, your wife could file a motion to have the case dismissed for no jurisdiction and refile in Arizona. You'd wind up paying the filing fee for nothing if she did that.

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
basically because I in good faith was mislead to believe that this was a temporary thing get messed over because I didn't file an emergency custody before a 6 month period... Wow, that really protects my rights as a father.
Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Sounds like everything here favors her regardless of what I do.
Customer reply replied 8 months ago
There's no way to hold the mother accountable for maliciously taking my daughter without my permission, hiding her whereabouts and falsly reassuring me that she would be returning to Florida, only to wait out a 6 month period to put me in this predicament EVEN THOUGH we are married.
Customer reply replied 8 months ago
34;Equal custody rights" it seems exactly as if hers trump mine.

I'm sorry that she did this to you. The laws don't always work out the way they're intended.

Not everything favors her. You can tell the judge what she did and ask for primary custody. If you had been the one to move away with your daughter, she would be in exactly your shoes. It's a bad situation. I really am sympathetic. It's also fixable, if you go to court.

The law wants children to have a relationship with both parents. You should get to see your daughter.

Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 32,264
Experience: Attorney with experience in family law.
Verified
Lucy, Esq. and 87 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Thanks for your advice it is appreciated.

You're welcome. I really hope you get to see your daughter soon.

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