How a Family Law Court Determines California Is an "Inconvenient Forum" During your Los Angeles Child Custody Proceeding

How a Family Law Court Determines California Is an "Inconvenient Forum" During your Los Angeles Child Custody Proceeding

In an earlier post concerning child custody jurisdiction, we talked about California’s adoption of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”), which provides for jurisdiction in child custody proceedings. However, even though the family law court in California may have jurisdiction to hear your child custody case, it’s also possible for the court to decline jurisdiction to make a child custody determination and decide another state is a more appropriate forum instead.

The issue of “inconvenient forum” is typically raised by one of the party’s to a child custody proceeding with the filing of a legal document, commonly referred to as a noticed motion, with the court. The issue of inconvenient forum may also be raised by the family law court, or upon another court’s request. Statutory reference on the issue of inconvenient forum (also referred to as “Forum Non Conveniens”) and a court’s ability to decline jurisdiction in certain child custody proceedings is found in Family Code Section 3427, which provides in pertinent part:

“(a) A court of this state that has jurisdiction under this part to make a child custody determination may decline to exercise its jurisdiction at any time if it determines that it is an inconvenient forum under the circumstances and that a court of another state is a more appropriate forum…

(b) Before determining whether it is an inconvenient forum, a court of this state shall consider whether it is appropriate for a court of another state to exercise jurisdiction. For this purpose, the court shall allow the parties to submit information and shall consider all relevant factors, including:

(1) Whether domestic violence has occurred and is likely to continue in the future and which state could best protect the parties and the child.

(2) The length of time the child has resided outside this state.

(3) The distance between the court in this state and the court in the state that would assume jurisdiction.

(4) The degree of financial hardship to the parties in litigating in one forum over the other.

(5) Any agreement of the parties as to which state should assume jurisdiction.

(6) The nature and location of the evidence required to resolved the pending litigation, including testimony of the child.

(7) The ability of the court of each state to decide the issue expeditiously and the procedures necessary to present the evidence.

(8) The familiarity of the court of each state with the facts and issues in the pending litigation.”

UCCJEA jurisdiction and inconvenient forum issues in a child custody proceeding are extremely difficult, hard-fought issues in a contested child custody case. This is a specific area in child custody matters that should be handled by a family law attorney. The family law court will consider the factors enumerated in section 3427 of the Family Law code, along with any evidence your family lawyer presents on your behalf.

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