Interstate child custody can be a complicated matter. Aside from the issue of managing the emotional and practical challenges of having a great deal of geographical distance between the 2 families, you might also run into questions regarding Texas custody laws.
Laws such as the Parental Kidnapping Protection Act (PKPA) and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and how they apply to your situation, which can be simplified from the help of a Texas family law attorney.
Interstate Child Custody Laws
The PKPA is a federal law that ensures that states recognize and honor their respective child custody decisions. It also provides guidelines for what (limited) circumstances might justify a state to modify another state’s custody decision.
Of course, for the PKPA to be enforced successfully, there needs to be guidelines for which state has jurisdiction over the interstate custody case. The UCCJEA was put into effect to do just that. This Act is adopted at the state level and helps establish answers to very basic questions: Which state is the child’s “home state” and “continuing jurisdictions.”
It is not unusual for former spouses to live in different states following divorce. With the recession making jobs scarce, people have been taking work wherever the opportunities present themselves. This sometimes means pulling up stakes and traveling to a new location. In other cases, a divorced person might move to the state where their family lives, so they can have the moral and financial support they need to get back on their feet.
On the other hand, child custody is an extremely emotional issue, and has led to some desperate behavior. In the past, non-custodial parents have sometimes attempted to change a custody case in their favor by taking the child to a different state and applying for custody there.
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) can play a role in your interstate child custody case, if the other parent lives in another state. There is a lot of detail in this Act because it covers many possible scenarios. Therefore, it can seem a bit confusing for some parents. However, it is likely that only some parts of it will apply to your case, which a Texas family law attorney can help you establish.
The main way the UCCJEA functions is to help establish which state has jurisdiction over a child custody case, but what criteria does it use to make this determination?
- The primary factor for determining jurisdiction in a child custody case is deciding which is the child’s “home state.” This is the state where the child has resided for the last 6 months prior to the beginning of the legal action.
- If for whatever reason, the home state cannot be determined or is disputed, the law looks at the state in which the child has “significant connections”. There needs to be evidence to prove this.
- If no court meets the standard given so far, another court may step in to handle the initial stages of the case. This is referred to as “vacuum jurisdiction.”
Once it is determined which state is to handle the case, it is given “continuing exclusive jurisdiction” in the case. However, if the child ends up living with the parent in a different state, the parent can petition to have the initial jurisdiction changed to that state. Understand though that making a modification to an initial jurisdiction may be a waiting game and a struggle, considering the facts you have to prove.
Contacting a Dallas Child Custody Attorney
The attorneys at Warren & Migliaccio have years of experience, and we’ll use that training to provide you peace of mind for the future, whatever the circumstances for your divorce or family law situation. From the initial consultation until the day your divorce is finalized, our Texas family lawyer team at Warren & Migliaccio is here to advocate on behalf of you and your children. Contact our Dallas law firm today at 1-888-584-9614.