My children are with their father in Texas. He’s keeping them from me, and I can’t reach him. What should I do?
Your situation is complex, and the solution depends on several key details. Firstly, has paternity been legally established, and are there any existing Court Orders? If there are, you’ll need to initiate legal proceedings in the state that issued these Orders. If the children have never lived in Arizona, your case will likely need to be filed in Texas family court. However, if they were living in Arizona and he removed them from the state, you may be able to file in Arizona family court.
The decision will hinge on where the children have resided for the majority of the past six months. If they haven’t lived in Arizona for most of that time, Arizona doesn’t have ‘home state jurisdiction’, and the case must be pursued in the state that does. I would need more details to determine if other theories could grant Arizona jurisdiction over the child custody matter.
If there are no Court Orders, act immediately. File now. He does not have the right to unreasonably restrict your access, and continuing to do so could have serious legal consequences for him. Don’t miss out on irreplaceable milestones and memories. Along with your initial Petition, you can also file a Petition for Temporary Orders, which is the fastest way to have your case heard by a judge.
Alternatively, a strongly worded letter from an experienced attorney might persuade him to behave more reasonably.
Moreover, according to A.R.S. §13-1302, custodial interference occurs when a person, knowing they have no legal right, takes, entices, or withholds a child from the other parent, thus denying that parent access to the child.
A qualified and experienced family law attorney can help you explore your options and guide you through the necessary steps. Most offer free, half-hour consultations where your situation can be discussed in detail and a plan of action can be developed. I strongly recommend scheduling this free consultation as soon as possible.