Ex parte Siderius
Supreme Court of Alabama
144 So.3d 319 (Ala. 2013)
Kenneth Fordham (plaintiff) and Caroline Siderius (defendant) were married and had two minor children, L.F. and M.F., in Alabama. The family then moved to Spokane, Washington, where the marriage deteriorated. Fordham and Siderius retained a court-approved mediator to craft a divorce-and-custody agreement. Thereafter, Fordham returned to live in Mobile, Alabama. Fordham and Siderius agreed that the children would travel to Mobile for a few weeks prior to the start of the new school year in Spokane. However, Fordham transferred the children’s school registration from Spokane to Mobile and filed a petition for divorce and child custody against Siderius in an Alabama court. Additionally, Fordham filed an emergency motion seeking immediate custody of the children, which the Alabama court granted. Siderius filed a petition in Spokane seeking dissolution of the marriage and custody of the children. The same day, the Spokane trial court issued an ex parte order requiring Fordham to return the children to Washington, scheduled hearings on Siderius’s petition, and conducted a telephone conference with the Mobile trial court as required by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). The Spokane court concluded that it had jurisdiction under the UCCJEA because the children lived with their parents in Washington for 17 months prior to the filing of the Alabama custody petition. The Mobile court held that it had jurisdiction over Siderius based upon her minimum contacts with the state. Siderius appealed and petitioned for a writ of mandamus with the Alabama court of appeals. The court of appeals denied Siderius relief, and the Supreme Court of Alabama granted certiorari to review.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Moore, C.J.)
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