It’s not uncommon for families to move several times over the course of their lives. In an intact family, the child will of course move with the parents. However in the case of a split or divorced family, things can quickly get complicated if one parent decides to move to a different state.
The child may stay behind with the custodial parent, while the non-custodial parent moves; or the child may move with the custodial parent to another state.
These moves complicate child custody agreements for obvious reasons, and when parents violate the terms of the agreement, the courts will have to step in. In such cases, it is very important to determine which court has discretion over the case, because a court will not agree to hear a case until it is deemed to have jurisdiction in the case.
Determining which state has jurisdiction is a key part of getting a child custody agreement enforced or modifying an existing custody order in multi-state child custody disputes.
Multi-state Child Custody Laws
Multi-state child custody disputes are decided under the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. This is a law specifically designed to enforce interstate child custody and visitation agreements, and also to deter parents from kidnapping children in other states.
The law is a uniform state law approved in 1997 to replace an archaic earlier law. The law specifically governs the jurisdiction of state courts and their ability to make as well as modify child custody agreements. It also requires state courts across the country to enforce child custody and visitation agreements made in another state. The law also provides for interstate enforcement procedures that will kick in when the terms of the agreement are violated.
How does a court determine jurisdiction?
Broadly, the law determines jurisdiction based on four factors.
- It considers whether the state is the child’s home state or where the child has lived for at least six months before the child custody action.
- It considers whether the state has significant evidence about the child because of the child’s connections to the state.
- It includes emergency care considerations in which there is danger of child abandonment or abuse in which immediate protective action is required.
- It considers where there is a vacuum or no jurisdictional basis.
Go over this law and jurisdictional matters with an attorney to determine which court has the right to make decisions regarding child custody agreement violations or modifications. The law can be very complex and disputes over child custody can become emotional and complicated.
Get Help from Warren & Migliaccio in Plano
If you are currently facing an out-of-state child custody dispute, or want to get your child custody agreement modified when your ex-spouse is in another state, speak to a family lawyer at Warren and Migliaccio about multi-state child custody laws, specifically as they pertain to your case. Call 888-584-9614 to speak with a lawyer at our firm, or use the online contact form on our website.