Why is Jurisdiction So Important?

By March 25, 2019Family Law Blog
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We should start with what is jurisdiction exactly, jurisdiction is the legal authority for the court to hear a case.  If the court does not have jurisdiction, it simply cannot hear the case and you will have to take the case to the appropriate jurisdiction.

How do you know if San Diego court has jurisdiction?

Sometimes it is very obvious to determine where jurisdiction is.  For example, if your divorce was processed in San Diego and never registered anywhere else, jurisdiction will remain in San Diego.  Another example would be if your child custody order was made in San Diego and the child still remains in San Diego, of course San Diego would be the appropriate place to litigate custody.  

There will always be times where it is not obvious but as a rule of thumb if the child is not in San Diego and neither party is in San Diego, it is highly likely jurisdiction resides somewhere else.  

CHILD CUSTODY JURISDICTION

Any issues concerning child custody are governed by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act also referred to as the UCCJEA.  The UCCJEA requires the action involving the child to be filed in its home state. This is either where the child has lived for at least 6 consecutive months prior to the case being filed, or if the child is no longer in the state, where the child lived within the six months before commencement of the proceedings.   

If an action has already commenced and a parent is seeking modification, another state can modify the original order only if the new state has jurisdiction as the home state and the original court declines to exercise continuing jurisdiction, or the proposed state is a more convenient forum, or no one including the child lives in the original state.  

It is important to contact an attorney in the proper jurisdiction to hear your case, as if you file a case in the wrong jurisdiction you will have to start all over again in the proper jurisdiction.

CHILD SUPPORT JURISDICTION

Any issues concerning child support are governed by the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act or UIFSA.  This gives continuing jurisdiction to one state to avoid conflicting orders. Just as with custody, the originating state will always have jurisdiction over support so long as one of the parents remains in the state.  This is important as the guidelines applied will be based on the originating state. As an example, say the child support order was created in San Diego and parent and child move to Nebraska, the child support order will remain at California guidelines so long as the payor lives in California even though parent and child have a lower cost of living in Nebraska.  Reverse that if the originating order is in Nebraska and parent and child move to California, they will receive child support based on Nebraska standards so long as the payor remains in Nebraska despite the higher cost of living in San Diego.

If you believe San Diego court has the ability to hear your case contact our office.  If you need to find an attorney where your case should be hear you can always contact the bar association in that jurisdiction to find an attorney who specializes in family law to assist you.  

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