Joint Legal Decision Making Must Parental Addresses be Disclosed?
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 The opinion is a memorandum decision and it is therefore not precedential; it may however be cited for persuasive value subject to various limitations.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.