Once a party files a dissolution proceeding in the State of California the dissolution summons serves as an automatic stay, restraining parties from certain behavior which includes removing the children from the State of California. It remains in effect until there is a dissolution judgment and acts as a temporary restraining order. Violating the summons and removing the children from the state subjects the person(s) responsible to a criminal proceeding under CA penal code code § 278 where abduction of a child is defined as to take, entice away, keep, withhold, or conceal” (California penal code § 277 k). The conviction includes a fine and possible jail time and shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both that fine and imprisonment, or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for 16 months, or two or three years, a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or both that fine and imprisonment.
The summons language is based on CA family code § 2040 and numerous appeal court decisions have upheld the fact that it remains in effect until there is a final dissolution judgment. To date no appeal court has determined that the summons violates constitutional substantive and procedural due process in any way as the intent is to preserve the status quo until there is a final judgment.
Criminal prosecution has been successfully initiated against those parties who have willfully violated the summons.