Out-Of-State Custody Order? Register It In California!

Are you new to the state of California? Whether you moved here for a job, for family reasons, or for the adventure, if you have a divorce judgment from another state that includes child custody orders it is a very good idea to register the out-of-state orders in California — because registering the out-of-state custody orders is a necessary step before you can seek enforcement or modification.

Different legal issues arise whether you are seeking enforcement or modification of an out-of-state custody order.

Enforcement

The Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution requires every state to recognize the judicial proceedings of every other state. However, in order for the California court to enforce your out-of-state custody order, you must first register the order in California. Registering the order makes the state of California aware of the order, allowing it to be enforceable.

In order to register out-of-state custody and support orders, you must file the following with the California court:

  • Two copies of the out-of-state order, including one certified copy,
  • Registration of Out-of-State Custody Order form (Form FL-580),
  • Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) (Form FL-105) – This form lists each child’s address for the last five years, and identifies any other related cases.

As part of the FL-580 form, you must include the contact information of the other parent so that the court can send the other parent notice of your request to register the custody orders. The other parent has 20 days from the day they are served to contest the registration. The bases for contesting the registration are that the state court that issued the custody order lacked the jurisdiction to do so, that the other parent was not given proper notice of the proceedings when the order was made, or that the orders you are trying to register are not current.

Modification

Modification of an out-of-state order is more complicated than enforcement. Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), a California court may only modify another state’s custody orders if the following criteria have been met:

1) The California court has jurisdiction to make an initial custody determination. This prong is met if California is the child’s home state, meaning the child has lived in California continuously for at least 6 months.

In addition, one of the following two criteria must be met as well:

A) The court of the other state determines that it no longer has exclusive, continuing jurisdiction. If the child and one parent now live in California, but the other parent still lives in the state that made the orders, whether California has jurisdiction to modify the custody orders depends on the specific facts of your case.

OR

B) The California court or the court of the other state determines that the child, the child’s parents, and/or any person acting as a parent do not reside in the other state. If neither parent nor the child lives in the state that made the custody orders any more, California will have jurisdiction to modify the order.

Even if your custody orders are working well for your family, registering them in your new state will give you peace of mind and the ability to act quickly should you ever need to ask for court intervention to enforce them. If your custody orders need to be modified, it is a good idea to consult an attorney regarding whether you can accomplish the modification in California and to help you with the process.

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