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If your divorce, legal separation or paternity judgment was entered in San Diego Superior Court, then motions for modification can be filed in San Diego Superior Court unless there is a change of venue or other order. If your paternity, legal separation or divorce judgment was entered out of California, then you need to register this custody order if you want to modify any of the orders contained in the out of state order. If your legal separation, paternity or divorce was in California, but not in San Diego County, then the normal procedure is to file a change of venue motion in the County where the custody order was entered to have it moved to San Diego County.
Under Family Law Code Section 3445, an out of state custody order may be registered in San Diego County by a letter or other document [judicial council pleading is preferable] requesting registration submitted to the Clerk of the San Diego Superior Court. This must include two copies, one of which must be certified but preferable if both are certified, of the determination sought to be registered with the San Diego Superior Court as well as a declaration under penalty of perjury that to the best knowledge of the person registering that the order has not been modified so that it is always the current court order which is being registered. In addition, with the exception of cases of domestic violence, the name[s] and address[es] of the person who is seeking the registration as well as any personal acting as the parent or the parent who have been awarded visitation and/or custody in the child custody order which is being registered.
When the San Diego Superior Court receives the document, the Clerk of the Court will file the child custody order to be filed as a foreign judgment together with one copy of the child custody order from out of state. The Clerk will also send a notice to the persons named to their address that the registration of the foreign court order is enforceable as of the date of registration. The notice shall also inform that a hearing to contest the validity of the registration must be requested within twenty days of the notice and that failure to contest the registration will result in a confirmation of the child custody order and will preclude challenge and contest which might otherwise have occurred.
If the person who receives the notice would like to contest the registration of the out of state judgment, a hearing must be requested within 20 days of being served with the notice. At the court hearing, the Judge will confirm the out of state order which is being registered unless the person who is contesting the registration can establish any of the following: that proper notice was needed for the order from out of state which is being registered and that proper notice was not given; that the child custody order seeking to be registered has been modified, stayed or vacated by a proper court or that the court which issued the child custody order which is being registered did not have jurisdiction to do so.
Registering an out of state judgment can be very technical. If you need assistance with this, or any other family law issue in San Diego County, please feel free to contact us for legal representation.