Sometimes circumstances may make one or both parents uncomfortable with the current venue where the child custody case was originally filed. When that happens, the parents may agree to request for a change of venue or one party who may be affected most may seek a venue change or transfer.
Therefore, the process of changing the venue begins when one party files a motion with the court seeking for a change, or when both parents agree to have the venue changed for their convenience. It is also important to note that a change of venue is more likely to be granted when there is an agreement between the parties involved in a child custody case than when one party is contesting that change.
What Is a Change of Venue?
A change of venue means transferring the case from the court where it was originally filed to another court perhaps in a different county. Therefore, when you want to move your child custody case from one county court to the court of another county, then that is referred to as the change of venue. In legal terms, a venue is typically the county where your case is heard in.
In California, any party that wishes to have the venue changed must file for a motion for change and in the county where the minor or the child resides. This is according to Family Code Section 7845. This happens if the current venue is no longer convenient to any of the parties or due to a significant change in circumstances that results in the need for a change.
Venue vs Jurisdiction
Most people may be confused between the two terms, venue and jurisdiction. A venue is a region or a county where the case is heard or where the lawsuit has been filed. On the other hand, jurisdiction refers to the authority that a legal body has or is given to hear and determine the case.
Factors That The Court Would Consider Before A Change Of Venue
It is not an automatic thing for a parent or a party seeking the change of venue to be granted the requests by the court. However, it is almost automatic when both parents agree to have the venue changed than when one party is seeking change where the other parent may not be satisfied with the application. Generally, the judge must consider some factors before making decisions on whether to grant a change of venue or not. Such considerations would include:
The Residence Of Both Parties
This refers to where both parents or parties involved in a child custody case reside. If the current venue is not convenient to both parties, whether due to a change in circumstances or relocation of one or both parties, the court would then analyze the situation before making determinations of the matter regarding the venue change.
The Residence Of The Witnesses
Where the witnesses reside is also a consideration that the court would factor in before deciding on whether to change the venue or not. If the witnesses are not inconvenienced by the change, then the court is likely to grant the request than when the witnesses are disadvantaged. This also depends on the nature of the case. It may be considered more in a high-conflict child custody battle than in a case where both parents are on good terms with each other.
The Residence Of The Child Or Children
When it comes to matters of child custody, a child or children are on the top priority. The court would always want to have the best interests of the child or children prevail. In this case, if one parent has relocated, the court will consider the residence of the child or where the child or children live. If the court finds out that the children are not inconvenienced by the change, then that request may be granted.
Need For Change
It is not always in good faith that a parent or a party would seek to have the venue changed. Therefore, when a parent or a party files a motion for a change of venue, the court would consider whether indeed there is a need for change or not. This will also give the court clarity in making decisions about that application based on the benefits of moving the case to another venue versus keeping it in the current venue.
Best Interests Of The Child Or Children
Therefore, when a party or a parent seeks to have the venue for a child custody case changed to another county, the court would analyze and look at the aspects that necessitated the change and whether that change is in the best interests of the child or not. If the change works to enhance the best interests of the child, then there is a high chance that the application would be granted by the court.
How To Change The Venue For A Child Custody Case
Before you think about a change of venue, there must be substantial grounds necessitating that change and, in most cases, where the parties are inconvenienced by the location of the pending case. If you have to travel some miles to where the child custody case is pending, then that might be one of the grounds to seek change. In addition to that, you may also want to consider where your witnesses, the other parent, and any party involved are located, and whether the change would give these parties the convenience that they need.
Once you have sufficient grounds, you can then write a motion to transfer your case to a different county that would be convenient for you and the other parties. Once you have filed the motion for change, then the judge will begin to consider the grounds for that change and if he or she finds sufficient reasons to have the venue change, then that application is likely to be granted.
You don’t have to travel so far when you can have the venue changed to a county where you reside, and where other parties will find it convenient. It is even stressful when you have to travel with your witnesses or with the child. When you feel you are too much overburdened by the current venue, you can negotiate with the other party and agree to have the changes.
You may also want to consult a lawyer who is experienced in matters of family law to help you in filing a motion and going through the matters regarding venue change.