Today I want to speak briefly about the difference between concurrent jurisdiction and a bridge order. Both involve work by the family law court, but they are different things, used in different situations. 

CINA cases are in juvenile court. Dissolutions of Marriage (i.e., divorce) are in family law court. If you try to file a divorce while you are in the middle of a CINA case, the family law court will wait until the juvenile case is over, or until it is granted concurrent (“at the same time”) jurisdiction to make its decision. The CINA case in juvenile court is a higher priority. 

When you get to the end of a CINA case, and the children could be returned to either/both parents, but the parents want to get divorced, the juvenile court grants concurrent jurisdiction. The CINA case does not yet close, but the parties are allowed to file their dissolution action. The family law court will then make all the usual determinations—child support, custody and visitation, property divisions, etc. 

If the parents are not married, and do not have a preexisting court order regarding custody and visitation, then under the same circumstances (i.e., reaching the end of the case, and either/both parent is a safe parent), then the court can issue a bridge order. This allows the case to go to family law court as well, but only to determine custody and visitation. Because the parents are not married, there is no property division to determine. Child support is also not addressed in the bridge order, but can be established through child support recovery. The nice thing about the bridge order is that the filing fees are waived; the “bridge” order provides a limited (i.e., custody and visitation only) connection between the two cases (juvenile and family law). 

However, if there is a preexisting order, a Bridge Order is not an option. It’s possible that you would be able to just abide by the previous order, but if not, you will have to file a modification order in family law court. This could happen if, for example, mom previously had primary physical care of the children, but now they will be placed with dad.

With a bridge order, the CINA case will close once the transfer to family law court is complete. 

With concurrent jurisdiction, the CINA case will not close until the dissolution decree is filed. There is typically a 90-day waiting period from the date of filing the Dissolution Petition until the court will grant the divorce, and many cases may take longer than that. Because of this, the CINA case stays open longer with concurrent jurisdiction than it does with a Bridge Order.

Concurrent Jurisdiction vs. a Bridge Order