Do I need to go to California for a custody hearing when I have sole custody of my daughter and am stationed in another state?

Asked about 1 year ago - Sacramento, CA

I am a Missouri resident and stationed in Missouri and have sole custody(physical and legal) of my daughter. I was served with papers from my ex-wife who is attempting to get visitation and joint custody. The papers served to me require me to go to California twice before the new year. We were divorced in NJ and that is where I have rec'd custody since it was uncontested. I am not clear as to how California can choose/require to have the custodial parent traveling cross country numerous times when the non-custodial is pursuing changes. Shouldn't the 'petitioner' be the one who travels to where the 'respondent' lives? Does California law apply to non residents who do not live in the state?
Also, I am listed as the petitioner and the ex-wife is the respondent, is that correct?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Shannon Richards

    Contributor Level 11

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    Answered . Custody jurisdiction is governed by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). All states have some form of this in their statutes. Basically if the NJ orders have not been modified then NJ has continuing jurisdiction to deal with it. HOWEVER, since it appears both parents and child(ren) have left NJ then either you or your X can file papers to have the court hear the custody matter. The courts should look to where is your child's "HOME STATE", meaning - where was she living for the 6 months just before the court action was filed. If actions are filed in 2 states, then the judges from those states will talk and decide where it is best handled. If your daughter has lived in Missouri for over 6 months it may benefit you to register the NJ decree there. You should seek immediate assistance of counsel. You probably should have a CA counsel make a special appearance to contest jurisdiction. California law will apply to your child if CA has appropriate custody jurisdiction under the UCCJEA, but if not, then no, CA law would not apply to you. You should seek an attorney familiar with the UCCJEA and it's application to interstate custody disputes.

    The information provided is general in nature and should not be considered as legal advice. Shannon Richards is... more
  2. Joseph Torri

    Contributor Level 16

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    Answered . I agree with my colleagues. Get an attorney and take action. The last thing you want to have happen is do nothing, and then get hit with a bunch of legal problems. Having an attorney appear in California to communicate with the court will be money well-spent. Sometimes judges do crazy things, especially if they are not familiar with family law and are new to the bench. An attorney could help prevent nightmare scenarios, especially when it's difficult for you to be physically in court due to location.

    This communication does not create an attorney-client relationship. This means that I am not your lawyer and I... more
  3. Lee Alan Thompson

    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . What Shannon said is correct. Get an attorney now!

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