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Modifying an out-of-state custody order in California

On Behalf of | Oct 3, 2023 | Child Custody |

In a perfect world, custody orders would never need to be modified, but life is filled with unexpected events. While some changes are minor, major events might require a change to your custody order.

For example, perhaps you relocated to California for a new job or to take care of a sick family member. Now, you will need to change the terms of your custody order to reflect your new living situation.

You and your co-parent may always agree upon new terms, but if they are not willing to cooperate, you might be able to modify your custody order in a California court.

Registering your custody order

The first step is getting a California court to enforce your out-of-state custody order by registering the order here in California. The registration process involves filling out several forms and provide a certified copy of the out-of-state custody order.

You must provide the court with your co-parents contact information when registering your custody order. The court sends notice of the registration to your co-parent, who then has 20 days to object to the registration.

Registration of your custody order in California does not necessarily mean it can be modified. In fact, California law states that a California court can recognize and enforce an out-of-state custody order but cannot modify it without jurisdiction.

Arguing jurisdiction

You can make an argument that the California court should have jurisdiction of your custody order when you register your order, but you will need to provide grounds for jurisdiction. The grounds will depend on your specific circumstances.

A California court may have the power to modify your custody order in emergency situations, such as if your child is in immediate danger with your co-parent. There are some emergency provisions in the law that allow an out-of-state custody order to be modified in these cases.

Arguing jurisdiction can be difficult. Jurisdiction is only found in limited settings, so you should learn about the grounds for jurisdiction and see if they apply to your case.


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