Life can take people on different paths, which is why they sometimes end up in family court deciding matters of divorce, child custody, child support, spousal support, adoption, guardianship, and other cases involving families and children. But what happens when life’s path leads to another county or state? What happens to a family law case when one or both parties move away from the original county and the court that had jurisdiction over their case?

When a court’s location is no longer convenient to where you live, you may choose to petition the court to move your case to your new location. Under many circumstances, a court may approve a motion to move your family law case to a new county or even to a new state.

Petitioning California Family Court for a Change of Venue

According to California’s Code of Civil Procedure, the court can order a transfer the legal proceedings to the county of residence of either party when “the ends of justice and convenience of the parties would be promoted by the change.” A family court in California is likely to approve a change to a new county under the following circumstances:

  • If both parties have relocated out of the county
  • If both parties approve the change
  • If the current court location isn’t convenient for either party or the witnesses in the case
  • If continuing in the current location would likely cause an unfair trial, such as one side being better able to provide witnesses and evidence than the other
  • If the party that initially filed the case chose the wrong venue or if the venue has no judge with the qualifications required to decide the case

Your Los Angeles family law attorney can help with the legal process of petitioning for a change to a new county or state, including:

  • Filing the motion at your current court for a change of venue
  • Filing your supporting declaration with an explanation as to why you’re requesting the change
  • Notifying the other party in your case of the motion to change the venue and reviewing their response
  • Representing your rights at the hearing in front of a judge if the other party protests the change

The hearing process is typically very simple and straightforward when both parties agree to the change. It can become more complex, however, if one party disagrees with the change, in which case both sides must present evidence to a judge as to why they desire the change of venue or disagree with it.

Can I Transfer the Case to Another State?

Transferring family law cases to a new state is more complex than changing the venue to a new county within the same state because each state handles divorce, custody, and the division of marital property during divorce very differently. Depending on which state hears your case, there could be great impacts on what property you lose or retain during the divorce and the amount of child support you pay or receive. Also, each state has a residency requirement specifying how long you must have been a resident before a court will hear your case. Before you can file a motion to change a court case to a new state, at least one party in the case must meet that state’s requirement for residency.

Child custody and support cases follow different rules for venue compared to divorce cases. In a child custody case, the location of the case depends on where the child resides. Cases cannot be transferred to a state where the child doesn’t live, but the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) ensures that a child-support-paying parent cannot flee to another state to avoid child support payments. Instead, the new state is given personal jurisdiction over the parent to enforce payment or collect arrears for the custodial parent in the original state.