Enforcing an Out-Of-State Order in California / by Cassandra Hearn

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Today’s society is very mobile.  It is not unusual for people to move far from the place they were raised, including across the country.  These moves may not be a once-in-a-lifetime issue, either, as people may make major moves several times.  When this happens and the parties share children, enforcing orders from different states can become confusing.

California family code section 4500, et seq. contains provisions relating to enforcing a child support order from outside of the state of California.  All states have adopted a version of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, which allows states to adopt and enforce child support orders from out of state.  The law provides that when a parent seeks to enforce a child support order from another state in California, particular documents, such as the order they seek to enforce, must be introduced and registered in the California court.  The registered order is thereafter enforceable just like an order would have been if it had been issued originally by a court in California.  The California court may not reduce or modify an arrearage judgment from another state, although it will have the power to enforce the collection of those arrearages.  If a person wants to modify a child support order in the state of California when an out-of-state order already exists, the petitioning party will have to demonstrate that California is now the proper forum and that it has jurisdiction. 

A child custody order is subject to similar treatment as a child support order.  If either parent resides in California, it is probably advisable to register the order in California.  To register the order, the registering parent will need copies of the child custody order, along with particular forms.  Once the registration is done, the other parent will be served with notice of the registration of the order and have the opportunity to protest.  The protest would be for reasons such as the order is invalid due to a lack of notice or jurisdiction.  Registration of the order will make it simpler to enforce the order in California if the person residing in California attempts to disobey the order.  Like with child support, if one parent wants to modify the order in California, he or she will have to demonstrate that California has jurisdiction over the child.  This is not the same as simply registering an order, and is subject to an evaluation by the judge.

We have extensive experience with helping our clients during interstate custody and support disputes. Call us today at 619-800-0384 for an appointment so can talk about your child and your case.