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When does a court have initial child custody jurisdiction?

Jurisdiction refers to the right of a court to preside over a case, and in child custody situations, the state in which the child resides typically determines what court will preside over a dispute. Timing may be important, and other issues could play a role as well. In Arizona, initial child custody jurisdiction in the state is typically appropriate if the child resides in the state at the time the proceeding begins or has resided in the state within the prior six months with the parent or acting person still living in the state as the proceeding begins.

Initial jurisdiction over a child custody case is also dependent on the fact that another state does not have jurisdiction or that a court in the child's home state chooses not to exercise its jurisdiction. It is also necessary for at least one of the child's parents or legal representative to have a significant connection with the state. Physical presence in Arizona is not sufficient.

If any other court has jurisdiction over the matter, it must decline to exercise that position before an Arizona court can serve as the point of initial child custody jurisdiction. In emergency situations, Arizona might serve as a temporary emergency jurisdiction. Examples of such situations may include instances in which a child has been abandoned or is facing the threat of mistreatment or abuse. This may also be appropriate if a child's parent or sibling is facing such threats.

A parent initiating child custody proceedings in Arizona might seek legal advice if they have recently moved to the state and have not yet established a significant connection with the state. If such a move was based on threats of abuse or mistreatment from the child's other parent, a lawyer might be able to assist in seeking temporary emergency jurisdiction even if initial child custody jurisdiction is not otherwise available.

Source: Arizona state legislature , "Chapter 8 UNIFORM CHILD CUSTODY JURISDICTION AND ENFORCEMENT ACT", December 30, 2014

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