Child Custody Jurisdiction in California Family Court, Part V
How does a court determine where to hear a child custody case when no state has jurisdiction over the children under the law? That’s a perplexing question that actually has a simple answer.
This is the last of our 5-part series on Child Custody Jurisdiction in California Family Court.
To recap, so far we’ve recounted 3 circumstances in which the courts in California determine where to hear a child custody matter:
2. New State Jurisdiction, and
In this post, I will explain what I call “No State Jurisdiction.” In other words, where should the matter be heard when no other state qualifies under the three named provisions above?
Under Family Code section 3421(a)(4), California can make initial child custody determinations if “no court of any other state would have jurisdiction under the criteria specified” regarding Home State Jurisdiction, New State Jurisdiction, or Not My State Jurisdiction.
In other words, where no state could be considered the home state, the child and the child’s paents have no significant ties to California, and no court in another state has determined that California is the appropriate place to hear the matter, a California court can take jurisdiction and hear the matter.
Obviously, this would be an incredibly rare scenario. The most likely scenario would involve a minor child who had moved from state to state prior to coming to California, so home state jurisdiction has never been established elsewhere. In that case, if the parents are not from California, and no other court is interested in taking jurisdiction, a California judge can decide to hear the case here.
The point of the child custody jurisdiction laws is two-fold: first, to ensure that there is never more than one state making custody orders about the same child; second, to ensure that there is always at least one state to make custody orders about a child.
“No State” Jurisdiction is a way of ensuring the latter goal. If no other state can hear the matter, California will take it up.