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Joint Legal Decision Making Must Parental Addresses be Disclosed?

Categories: Family Law, Blog

Disclose parental address in divorce proceeding

A  recent Arizona Court of Appeals Division Two case  -  Jorgenson and Giannecchini  -  addressed  whether  a wife  was required to disclose her residential address to  her former husband. The opinion is a memorandum decision and it is therefore not precedential; it may however be  cited for persuasive value subject to various limitations.  The issue centered  on compliance with the  lower court’s order as set forth in the parties’ consent decree of dissolution of marriage.   

The couple, Oliver and Deborah, was married  in  2011 and had  a child in 2013.    During 2014,  Deborah reported various acts of domestic  violence perpetrated by Oliver and applied for and  received a substitute address through the  Address  Confidentiality  Program (“ACP”).    In July 2015, Deborah and Oliver were divorced by consent decree.  The decree  included a provision that noted Deborah was moving to a new residence  in the near future  and required that she “disclose her address …. no later than November 1, 2015”.  

On November 6, 2015, Oliver filed an Expedited  Motion to  Compel Compliance and for Sanctions asserting  that Deborah had failed to disclose her address as required  by the  consent decree.  

At the hearing on Oliver’s motion, Deborah acknowledged that at the time of the entry of the decree she felt safe because she contemplated that her mother would be living with her. However, her  mother  did not relocate to Arizona and therefore  could not live with her.  Because of  Oliver’s conduct  and behavior,  subsequent to the decree being entered, she no longer felt safe and therefore  her address should  continue to  be protected.  

The trial court ordered Deborah to provide the physical address at which the child will be residing while in her care. The court recognized that the disclosure of the address was an  expressly negotiated term  and that it reasonable for Oliver to be aware of where his child will be residing while in Deborah’s care.  

The Court of Appeals considering  its jurisdiction over this matter  recognizing  that the trial court did not hold Deborah in contempt of court.  The trial court’s intent was considered enforcement of the consent decree – which Deborah had disobeyed and was previously subject to appeal. Nevertheless, the Court of Appeals chose to treat the order ‘like a contempt order’ – just as the parties and the trial court had done.   

The Court of Appeals has discretion to treat the direct appeal as a special action and accept jurisdiction but Deborah had previously filed a petition for special action which the Court declined to accept. Since the briefs for both the direct appeal and petition for special action are essentially identical, the Court  of Appeals  declined to exercise special action jurisdiction.    

Additionally,  the Court of Appeals awarded fees and costs to Oliver in part because Deborah’s noncompliance with the consent decree was unreasonable.

While there are circumstances  when an ACP will be issued, it can be waived by consent decree.  If there is  a presumption of  domestic violence, parties  need to be aware that protections afforded by an ACP can be waived by provisions in a consent decree.  


About the author: Mervyn Braude is a family law attorney at the Phoenix law firm of Jaburg Wilk P.C. He is a certified family law specialist by the State Bar of Arizona.