Child Custody and Home State Jurisdiction

Under Family Code Section 3421 the Court can determine which county in the State of California has jurisdiction to make initial child custody determination. This is a very important first step in determining where parents can go to Court and determine Custody and Visitation arrangements that may have a long lasting effect on the future of the parties case.

The Family Law Court can assert jurisdiction over a case for custody and visitation except if there is an emergency under Family Code Section Section 3424, which allows the Court to assert emergency Court Orders on Custody and visitation.

A court of this state has jurisdiction to make an initial child custody determination only if any of the following are true:

This county where the party or parties files their initial pleading is the “home state” of the child on the date of the commencement of the proceeding. Basically the Court will permit a filing of Custody if the parent or parents live in the County where the Courthouse lies.

In addition, the Court will permit a filing for custody or visitation and or the child lived within the county for six months before the commencement of the proceeding.

Often a party who lives or resides in another county will wish to have the child custody case heard in the court where they reside. In order to do this the party or parties must bring this issue to the Courts attention. The competing Courts can then decide amongst themselves which Court better suites handling the child custody case. The Court often will look to these issues upon deciding the proper home state to asset jurisdiction.

The child and the child's parents, or the child and at least one parent or a person acting as a parent, have a significant connection with this state other than mere physical presence.

Substantial evidence is available in this state concerning the child's care, protection, training, and personal relationships.

All courts having jurisdiction under paragraph or have declined to exercise jurisdiction on the ground that a court of this state is the more appropriate forum to determine the custody of the child.

The Courts can assert Home state jurisdiction of a Child Custody matter even if the child does not live in the county where the Court or another party does not reside.

Moreover a Court thereafter will have continuing jurisdiction over deciding any future child custody and visitation issues that might arise. However, if later on in the proceedings a party leaves the state or county and the Court determines that neither the child or parent or parents reside in the County or the child is no longer in the County initially determined to be the home state, the Court can transfer the jurisdiction to another Court. Thus if the Court cannot receive enough information regarding the child's care, protection, training, and personal relationships then it might give up home state jurisdiction.