In almost every Divorce or Paternity Case in the State of California, the Court will be asked to make orders regarding the Custody of the Children. The Court will be asked to make specific orders as to the time that each parent will have custody of the children.
The Court in California can only make Custody Orders in a case if it has the necessary Jurisdiction or Authority of the child to make a custody order.
Under the California Family Code, a Court in this state may exercise jurisdiction of it is the child's “home state” at the time the case is filed. The basic definition of home state is if the child lived with one or both parents for at least 6 months before the case is filed. The law also requires that the parent who files the case live in the County where the case is filed for at least 3 months prior to filling the case.
If a child has not lived in California for at least 6 months, than a Court in this state may not be able to hear the issues regarding child custody.
A serious legal dispute can sometimes occur when another parent has filed a case in a state other than California at the same time that the first parent has filed the case in a California Court.
The law in this area is very clear. Once one state has begun to exercise jurisdiction over a child, no other state court may make custody orders regarding that child. This is to prevent parents from fleeing from state to state in order to change a custody order that they don't like.
If there is any dispute as to the question of the home state of a child, the law requires the Judges in each of the potential states to communicate with each other and discuss between themselves who will be the more appropriate Judge to exercise jurisdiction over the child. This will ensure that there is only one Judge in one State that is going to be making orders in a case.
These types of interstate custody disputes are complicated. Any parent in one of these situations should consult with an experienced Family Law Attorney.