Friday, November 3, 2006
Case Law Development: UCCJEA Prohibits Court From Altering Custody of Foreign Decrees, Even in Relocation Cases
A second move-away case from the California Court of Appeals this past week involved the application fo the UCCJEA to enforcement of a French custody decree. The French decree gave custody of the child to mother, visitation rights to father, and enjoined mother from moving away with the child. However, mother did move with the couple's 14-year-old child from Fance to California, resulting in this action by father, requesting return of the child. The trial court ordered that the child be returned to France or else the father would obtain sole legal and physical custody. The court of appeals reversed, holding that as it violated the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act by changing custody, and by ordering that the mother not move away with the child.
The court of appeals reversed, holding:
We agree that the trial court violated the UCCJEA by changing custody. We also
agree that the UCCJEA required limited enforcement of the visitation schedule but
prohibited the trial court from enforcing the other aspects of the visitation award,
including the order that [Mother] not move away with [Child]. This not only follows from
the language of the UCCJEA, but also avoids any conflict between enforcing custody and
enforcing visitation. Thus, we accord comity to the French decree to the extent -- but
only to the extent -- that the UCCJEA requires.... The trial court ... had no jurisdiction to enforce any visitation provisions other than the visitation schedule. If [Father] came to California, the trial court could have required [Child] to visit him according
to the schedule. It erred, however, by requiring that [Child] be returned to France.
Marriage of Paillier, (October 31, 2006)
Opinion on the web (last visited November 3, 2006 bgf)