In re the Marriage of John William Peck, Petitioner/Appellant, and Sabine Sybille Hansen Peck, Respondent/Appellee.
from the Superior Court in Pima County No. D20160247 The
Honorable James E. Marner, Judge
IN PART; REVERSED IN PART AND REMANDED.
Waterfall, Economidis, Caldwell, Hanshaw & Villamana,
P.C., Tucson By Peter Economidis and Corey B. Larson Counsel
Garnice Law, PLLC, Scottsdale By Victor A. Garnice Counsel
Espinosa authored the opinion of the Court, in which
Presiding Judge Staring and Judge Miller concurred.
John Peck appeals the trial court's judgment dismissing
his petition for dissolution on grounds of lack of personal
jurisdiction over his wife, Sabine Peck. He also contends
that, even if jurisdiction was lacking, he was nonetheless
"entitled to have an Arizona court terminate his
marriage." For the following reasons, we affirm the
conclusion that the court did not have jurisdiction over
Sabine,  but we remand for further proceedings
regarding the dissolution of the marriage.
and Procedural Background
In reviewing the trial court's dismissal for lack of
personal jurisdiction, we view the facts in the light most
favorable to John. See In re Consol. Zicam Prod. Liab.
Cases, 212 Ariz. 85, ¶ 7, 127 P.3d 903, 907 (App.
2006). The salient facts in this case are
essentially undisputed. John and Sabine were married in
Switzerland in 2001. Sabine is a German citizen who resides
and is employed in Spain, and John resides in Tucson.
Throughout their marriage, the couple have lived separately
and apart in Switzerland, England, and Spain. In June 2014,
John moved to Tucson while Sabine remained in Spain. Sabine
has never resided in Arizona, but she visited John in Tucson
on several occasions throughout 2014 and 2015 "in an
effort to reconcile their marriage" and co-signed the
lease on his Tucson apartment.
In January 2016, John filed a petition for dissolution of
marriage without minor children in the Pima County Superior
Court, alleging the trial court had personal jurisdiction
over the parties because he was "a resident of and
domiciled in Pima County, " "Arizona [wa]s the last
matrimonial domicile of the parties[, ] and [Sabine] has
caused numerous events to occur in Arizona including
execution of a Contract for Home Rental." Sabine was
served with the petition in Spain pursuant to Ariz. R. Fam.
Law P. 42(A) and in compliance with the Hague Convention.
Sabine filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction, arguing she had "not established domicile
in Arizona" and lacked sufficient minimum contacts with
Arizona to permit the exercise of in personam jurisdiction
over her. John responded that personal jurisdiction over
Sabine was appropriate because her "conduct . . .
caus[ed] [his] move to Arizona and her other conduct in
Arizona, " including making statements that she intended
to move to Arizona and co-signing the lease on John's
apartment, satisfied jurisdictional requirements.
In a signed written ruling, the trial court determined that
Sabine did not have sufficient minimum contacts with Arizona
to subject her to divorce proceedings in the state and
dismissed the petition for lack of personal jurisdiction.
John filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing he had
established a prima facie case of jurisdiction over Sabine,
and she had "not denied" the allegations in his
opposition. From this conclusion, he asserted the court was
required to accept his claims as true and exercise
jurisdiction over Sabine. The court denied John's motion,
he timely appealed, and we have jurisdiction pursuant to
A.R.S. §§ 12-120.21 (A)(1) and 12-2101(A)(3).
See Garza v. Swift Transp. Co., 222 Ariz. 281,
¶¶ 15-16, 213 P.3d 1008, 1011 (2009) (section
12-2101 (A)(3) provides jurisdiction when non-final order
precludes party from obtaining ultimate
In the context of proceedings for the dissolution of
marriage, A.R.S. § 25-312 authorizes the superior court
to make provision for child custody, child support, the
maintenance of either spouse, and the disposition of
property, "[t]o the extent it has jurisdiction to do
so." It is against this backdrop that we consider
whether the trial court had personal jurisdiction over
Sabine. John argues the court erred in determining it lacked
jurisdiction over Sabine because her purposeful acts
"directed at Arizona" and her "breach of
[their] contract" to relocate to Tucson provided
sufficient contacts for the forum to assert its jurisdiction
over her. "When a defendant challenges the existence of
personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff must come forward with
facts establishing a prima facie showing ...