Parents are sometimes involved in a custody dispute that involves more than one state. Another state might issue a child custody order, but the child and/or a parent is in California.
Registering an out-of-state custody order is a necessary step before a parent can seek enforcement or modification of the order. Find out how to register and modify an out-of-state child custody order in California here!
Registering an Out-of-State Child Custody Order in California
The Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution provides that every state is to recognize the judicial proceedings of every other state. However, in order for the California court to enforce an out-of-state custody order, it must first be registered in California. Registering the order makes the state of California aware of the order, allowing it to be enforceable.
When parents get a child custody order in another state, they sometimes want the other state’s order filed in California just in case problems arise in California later. This is called “registration.” This lets the California courts know about the other order.
Registering an order in California does not transfer an entire case to California. A California family court generally will not have the power to change the custody order, since the original state that made the order usually keeps that power. Registration just means that a California judge will be able to enforce the custody order if problems come up later (for instance, if the child is in California and a parent will not turn over the child to the other parent).
How to Register a Custody Order in CA
There are several steps required to register another state’s custody order in California:
- Fill Out the Paperwork
- File the Paperwork
- Wait and See What the Other Parent Does
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), and
Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) (Form FL-105).
You can obtain a certified copy of the out-of-state order by contacting the clerk of the court where the order was originally made.
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. Once the court receives the registration filing, the court will send the notice of the registration to the other parent. The other parent has 20 days from the date the notice was mailed to them to contest the registration. The contest must be in writing and filed in the court case.
The bases for contesting the registration must be one of the following:
- The issuing court did not have jurisdiction to issue the custody order.
- The out-of-state order has been vacated, stayed, or modified by a court having jurisdiction to do so.
- The other parent was entitled to notice of the original order, but did not receive proper notice.
Modifying an Out-of-State Child Custody Order in California
In general, registration of an out-of-state order in California does not mean that the order can or will be modified. In fact, according to Family Code § 3446(b), a California court “shall recognize and enforce, but may not modify [unless the California court has jurisdiction to modify], a registered child custody determination of a court of another state.”
How to Modify an Out-of-State Custody Order Once Properly Registered in CA
Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), a California court may only modify another state’s custody order if the following criteria have been met:
- The California court has jurisdiction to make an initial custody determination [meaning the child has lived in California continuously for at least 6 months]; AND
- The court of the other state determines that it no longer has exclusive, continuing jurisdiction; OR
- Neither the child nor either of the parents still reside in the state that issued the order.
Contact a California Custody Lawyer Today
Understanding and litigating multi-state custody matters can be difficult to do on your own. If you are unsure what to do or what state to go to for help, it is always best to consult with an attorney. Contact a California family law attorney to help you understand how to register and modify an out-of-state child custody order in California. They can help you through the process and fill out the appropriate forms to ensure a smooth transition between state courts.