Q: What happen if I respond for a mediation meeting without being legally served? does it make me being legally served?

I was compelled to meet in a zoom meeting for mediation for child support in CA. But I already initiated a complaint for divorce, child support and custody in Maryland. Do I have to attend it? what is going to happen with the action in Maryland?

2 Lawyer Answers
T. Augustus Claus
T. Augustus Claus pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Las Vegas, NV

A: Regarding the mediation meeting in California, if you were not properly served with legal documents related to the meeting, it may not necessarily constitute being legally served.

Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: You need a lawyer to review the jurisdictional issues. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act has been codified in both CA and MD (and every other state, I believe) and there must be a hearing first to determine which state court will hear the case and exercise jurisdiction over the matter. Generally speaking, if the child was a resident of one of the states for more than six months before the commencement of the first action, that state of residence will be the the correct jurisdiction, but other factors may come into play. If you were not served in the CA case, then you are not subject to personal jurisdiction there for any purpose; however, if the CA court determines it has jurisdiction over the minor child, it may issue court orders regarding that child. You may need to challenge those orders later. Meet with an experienced lawyer (in child custody cases, especially under the UCCJEA) to review whether it is worth waging litigation over the jurisdiction issue. It may turn out that CA has jurisdiction and you are just wasting time filing in MD. In either scenario, you will need a CA lawyer to ether contest jurisdiction there or to represent you there.

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