In a California dissolution, the Court will make custody and visitation orders regarding the minor children (to be discussed under Part 7(a) – (c).
Before it can make such orders, the Court must first determine if it has jurisdiction (the power or authority) to make such orders.
If you have minor children, you list them under Item 3. The parties are also required to attach a Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act – FL-105 (“UCCJEA).
The UCCJEA determines where the custody/visitation matter should be heard. For instance, if the parties and children live in California (and have lived in California their whole lives), the Court can make orders. But what if a party moved to California in the last month and recently filed her Petition? The other party can argue (and will likely succeed) that with regard to custody/visitation, the matter should be heard in the state from which the children moved. That does not mean that the Petitioner cannot obtain a legal separation (or dissolution) in California; it just means that the custody/visitation component may be heard in another state.
Item 3(d) deals with children born to the parties before marriage. Children born to married couple are presumed to be the legal children of those parents. Fam. Code § 7540. It becomes a little more complicated if the parties were not married when the child was born. (Click here for Quick Guide to California Parentage Law.) However, the Court can still find that the parties are the parents of the child and make custody/visitation orders.
Before filing your Petition and the concurrent UCCJEA Declaration, be sure to talk to an experienced family law attorney to learn about your rights.