I want to talk to you about undoing a child custody order that you had no knowledge about. In past videos I’ve talked about the importance of giving a party notice when you are filing an action in court or when you are asking the court to do something. You can give a party notice by serving them with the paperwork and depending on where you live, there are different ways that you can serve a party.
You can serve them by way of process server, you can have them accept service, or in many cases you can serve them with certified mail return receipt requested. But there are going to be cases where service or notice slips through the cracks.
There is actually someone really close to me in my life that had a case where his children’s names were changed while he was living in another country. He never received notice that this action was pending.
What should you do if this happens to you?
The first thing you should do is go to the Rules of Procedure wherever you live. If you live in Arizona I would go to Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure. There should be a rule, if you are in the United States, about setting aside a judgment. It should be somewhere in the section of post trial actions or post trial motions. In Arizona at least there are a lot of different factors for which you can possible file a motion to set aside a judgment.
One of the reasons for asking a court to set aside a judgment is the fact that you never received notice that an action was pending. So if there was a court order entered against you, for example a child support order and you weren’t given notice. Or maybe your ex was given custody and you had no idea that an action was even pending. Don’t lose hope because there is still something that you can do or try to do to get that motion set aside and have the judge look at it again.
One thing that I do want to point out, however, is that it is up to you to keep the court notified of your current address. If notice was attempted at your last known address the court may say that the notice was sent to the address on file and you are not getting out of the court order. The responsibility and obligation is on you. If you move and don’t update your address and you miss something important, then you may be out of luck.
In many cases when someone is asking something major to be done, like change of custody or a name change, the opposing party is required to be personally served. There’s tons more to know but I’m trying to give you the crucial pieces you need to know if you are doing this yourself.
So don't lose faith. If an order has been ordered against you and you didn't have any idea that it had happened, check out those rules of family law procedure.