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California Court Discusses Modification of Out of State Custody Orders

In our current world, when a couple divorces it is not uncommon for one parent to move to another state. In most cases, the state that originally decides a custody matter retains jurisdiction over the matter, and other courts must abide by the original court’s order. The Court of Appeals for the Fourth District of California recently addressed the issue of when a court is permitted to modify a custody order issued by another jurisdiction. If you share custody of your child pursuant to an order that was issued in another state that you or your co-parent wishes to amend, it is critical to meet with a seasoned California family law attorney to discuss whether the order is subject to modification by the California courts.

Factual Background of the Case

Reportedly, the mother and father share custody of two children. The terms of the custody were determined by a consent order issued by a North Carolina court in 2017. In 2018, however, the mother filed a family law action in the California courts and registered the North Carolina order as required by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). She then filed a petition for an order modifying ten of the terms set forth in the North Carolina order.

It is alleged that Oral argument was held on the matter, after which the court ruled that California had UCCJEA jurisdiction and that California had jurisdiction to enter custody orders in the case. The court granted the mother’s petition in part and denied it in part. The mother then appealed. On appeal, the court reversed the trial court ruling on the grounds that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to modify the North Carolina order.

Jurisdiction to Modify a Custody Order from Another Jurisdiction

Under the UCCJEA, courts are required to enforce and respect custody orders entered in other jurisdictions, and only one state is permitted to make custody determinations, which includes modifications, at any given time. After an out-of-state custody order is registered with the California courts pursuant to the UCCJEA, it is enforceable in California. Under the UCCJEA, a California court cannot modify a child custody order issued by another state unless California has the jurisdiction to issue an initial determination, and the out of state court has either relinquished jurisdiction or the parents and child no longer live in the out of state forum. In the subject case, the trial court ruled on the mother’s petition without first analyzing whether it was permitted to do so under the UCCJEA. Thus, the court found that the trial court improperly ruled on the mother’s petition.

Discuss your Custody Issue with a Skillful California Child Custody Attorney

Custody disputes can be complicated, and they are often even more complex when the co-parents do not reside in the same state. If you are subject to a custody order that was issued by a court in another jurisdiction and you or your co-parent seek to modify the order it is in your best interest to meet with a skillful California child custody attorney to discuss your case. Ethan M. Weisinger is an assertive California child custody attorney who will work diligently to help you protect your parental rights. Mr. Weisinger can be contacted at 925-258-2020 or through the online form to set up a free and confidential meeting to discuss your custody case.

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