What is the Child Custody and Jurisdiction Enforcement Act?

Two children playing/hugging with parent in the background

It is not uncommon for a divorce to occur in a military family that has lived in several different military towns—including San Diego—over the course of years. Sometimes a couple will separate and end up living in different cities or states before the divorce case is filed. In fact, sometimes unmarried couples have a child and then decide to go their separate ways, also to different cities and states, without having obtained a child custody order from a court. In this situation, it is important for them to know how child custody determinations will be handled and, if necessary, how to change child custody jurisdiction.

You don’t have to figure out jurisdiction issues in San Diego on your own. An attorney can guide you through the process of changing jurisdiction in child custody cases.

Dealing with Child Custody Jurisdiction

When a party decides to seek a judicial determination regarding child custody jurisdiction, where do they go? Often, a person will attempt to go to the nearest courthouse, but that is often not the correct venue for the legal controversy, be it divorce or child custody.

Before filing a divorce or child custody case, your attorney will need to know how long you and/or your spouse has been in California, and how long each of you has lived in San Diego County. Legal advice and jurisdiction over minor children in child custody cases will ultimately be governed by the Uniform Child Custody and Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA).

What Exactly Is the Uniform Child Custody and Jurisdiction Enforcement Act?

This act was created to provide uniformity when it comes to determining what court should make decisions concerning child custody/visitation. The act is included in California’s family code (Sections 3400 to 3465). 

Note that this act only spells out which court must decide a particular case involving child custody. It does not specify how the family law court must decide this case.

Based on the act, four bases, or principles, should be used to determine which state court can make determinations regarding child custody. These tests include:

  1. The home state of the child
  2. The existence of a key connection between you/ the other parent and the state
  3. Emergency jurisdiction in a situation where the welfare of your child is threatened
  4. Where the child is present if no other states have sound bases for ultimately taking jurisdiction

Note that the home state of your child is generally the state in which your child resided for six or more consecutive months prior to the proceedings. If your child doesn’t live in the state anymore, that state is still deemed the home state if you or the other parent still resides there.

Let’s say that no state happens to be the home state of your child. Or, let’s say that the state ends up declining jurisdiction. In this situation, your next move will be to focus on the state where either you or the other parent has a major connection. For instance, the state where the child has several relatives may become the state that has jurisdiction. 

So, What Does The Jurisdiction Enforcement Act Mean for You?

Based on the jurisdiction enforcement act, if you were divorced in another jurisdiction and neither of you currently lives in that jurisdiction, you may nevertheless have to file your pleadings in that original jurisdiction.

Note that sometimes a party serves another person with divorce or child custody papers that were filed in a court without proper jurisdiction. However, it is possible for a person to consent to jurisdiction where none would have been present if the person had objected. This is why it is important to contact an attorney whether you have been served divorce papers, have been served child custody papers, or are just considering whether to file for divorce or child custody.

An attorney can walk you through the process of determining which court has jurisdiction in your child custody case and help you navigate how to change child custody jurisdiction if needed.

To change your child custody jurisdiction, you need to know how to transfer your matters to another state. Obtain documentation showing the current state’s decisions and file them with a court in the other state. Knowing how to change child custody jurisdiction properly will help you to secure a formal court order that incorporates the previous decisions.

Change Child Custody Jurisdiction with Legal Help Today

If you need help with changing jurisdiction in child custody cases, it is critical that you hire a San Diego divorce lawyer with experience handling cases and providing quality services related to divorce or child custody.

You can schedule a free consultation with me to start discussing how to change child custody jurisdiction in your particular situation. I will walk you through the necessary steps in San Diego and answer any questions you may have. Rest assured that your needs and best interests—as well as the best interests of your children—will remain my top priority at each stage of the proceeding.

Get in touch with me today to start learning how to change child custody jurisdiction and achieve the results you desire during your divorce/custody case in California.