How to Transfer a Family Court Case to Another State

How to Transfer a Family Court Case to Another State

Family court cases involving divorce, child custody, visitation rights, child support, and other domestic matters are usually filed in the state where the family resides. However, there may be circumstances where you need to transfer an existing family court case to a different state. Here is an outline of the steps involved in transferring a family court case to another state:

Determine if the Case Can Be Transferred

Not all cases can be transferred. The type of case and stage of the proceedings will determine if a transfer is possible.

  • Divorce cases are generally tied to the state of residency and cannot be transferred if the divorce petition has already been filed.
  • Child custody cases can usually be transferred if the child has moved to a different state and has lived there for at least 6 months.
  • Child support cases can be transferred through a direct filing in the new state or registration of the existing order.
  • Paternity cases can generally be transferred if the relevant parties have all moved to a new state.
  • Domestic violence cases usually cannot be transferred to another state.

Notify the Court and Parties

File a motion to transfer the case in the current court, providing the reasons for the move to another state and new address. This provides the court and other parties notice of your intent to transfer the case.

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Provide the specific case number and caption so the court can identify the exact case. List all the parties and attorneys involved in the case in the motion.

Send copies of the transfer motion to the other party or their lawyer so they also have notice the case is requested to be moved.

Gather Documents from Current Case

To file the case in the new state court, you need certified copies of all existing documents and orders. This includes filings like divorce petitions, custody motions, court orders, financial statements, and any other relevant case documents.

Each state has procedures to request certified copies from the clerk of court. There may be fees involved for copying costs.

File to Transfer Venue in New State

To move the case to the new state court, you need to file a transfer of venue motion. Attach the certified copies of the current case file obtained from the clerk.

The new state court reviews the motion, case file, and determines if it will accept transfer of the case based on jurisdiction and the issues involved.

Factors like the residency of the child are considered for custody cases. The court must have jurisdiction over the child according to the state laws.

Serve Notice to Other Party

If the motion to transfer venue is accepted, notice must be made to the other party(ies). Service of process is usually done according to the laws of the new state.

The other party is given time to respond or object to the transfer if they wish. Their consent is not required in all cases but objections could affect the court’s decision.

Court Issues Transfer Order

The new state court will issue a transfer order to the old state court once the process is complete. This officially moves the case to the new court’s jurisdiction.

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The order and case file are sent to the original court that handed the case. That court then closes out the case in their jurisdiction.

Some delays could occur if the old court needs additional steps like a hearing before releasing the case. Work with both court clerks to facilitate the smooth transition.

Registration in New State

To enforce existing orders like custody, visitation, or child support, the orders generally need to be registered in the new state court.

This involves filing certified copies of all active orders so they can be enforced under the new case transferred. The other party is served with notice of the registration.

Modify Orders if Needed

If facts have changed, you can file motions to modify existing orders like custody, visitation, or child support once the case is under the new state’s jurisdiction.

Supporting evidence and documentation must be provided to back up the reasons why modifications are now necessary. Changes in employment, income, access to the children or other factors may be applicable.

By following all the state rules on jurisdiction transfers and filings, you can successfully move an existing family court case like child custody to a new state if you meet the requirements. Consulting with a local family lawyer for guidance is highly recommended before attempting to transfer a case on your own. Laws vary greatly by state which makes the process complex in some cases. With persistence and careful filings, you can navigate the steps for transferring venues when a move out of state occurs.


Transferring a family court case like child custody and support orders to a new state is a complex legal process but possible in many situations. The keys are determining if the case legally qualifies for transfer based on jurisdiction factors, following all procedures for notice and filings in both states, and obtaining certified copies of the existing case record. While delays or objections from the other party may occur, with cooperation and diligence, a change in residence can prompt the successful transfer of a family court case to a new state’s court system in appropriate circumstances.

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Can I transfer a divorce case to another state?

Divorce cases are generally tied to the state of residency where the original petition for dissolution was filed. Unless both spouses have moved away, it is rarely possible to transfer a divorce prior to final decree across state lines.

How long does a child have to live in a state before custody is transferred?

For initial custody cases, 6 months of residence is the standard time for a state court to have jurisdiction. To modify existing custody orders, the time period may be shorter according to laws of the specific state.

Do both parents have to agree to transfer a child custody case?

No, consent of both parents is not always required. But if the other parent objects, the court may take that into consideration when deciding on transfer request motions. Lack of consent could potentially delay or jeopardize the transfer approval.

Can child support be transferred to another state?

Yes, existing child support orders can be registered and enforced in a new state after transfer by filing certified copies of the active orders from the prior court. Support orders can also be modified by the new state court.

What if the other parent cannot be located to serve transfer papers?

Most states allow alternative service methods like posting notice in the court records or publishing a notice in local newspapers or legal journals if a parent cannot be located for in-person service. Proof of diligent efforts to locate the parent must usually be demonstrated.

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