Interstate Child Custody

Child custody issues can be difficult even when the case is confined to a single state. When a custody case crosses state lines, more problems and conflicts may arise. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act has sought to protect children by limiting the infighting that often accompanies interstate child custody cases.

Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act

In the past, parents who were unhappy with child custody arrangements sometimes kidnapped their children and sought a new custody hearing in another state. This type of situation was traumatic for children already dealing with the anguish of their parents going through a divorce. Some particularly antagonistic parents even moved their children between states repeatedly, trying to get a custody order in their favor.

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act has changed the laws regarding interstate child custody in hopes of eliminating such situations. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act clearly delineates which state has jurisdiction in a particular case and forces other states to respect the decision handed down by the state with jurisdiction.

How Jurisdiction Is Determined

According to the Act, a court may rule on custody issues if the child:

  • Has lived in that state for six months or longer
  • Was living in the state before being taken elsewhere by a parent seeking custody in another state.
  • Has established relationships with people (such as teachers or relatives) in the state
  • Has been abandoned
  • Is safe in the current state but may be in danger of abuse or neglect in his or her home state

If no other state challenges the court in question, based on one of these criteria, the court may claim jurisdiction and decide custody issues. The court’s decision is then final under a policy known as “full faith and credit,” which means that once a custody case has been decided, no other state may change the original custody order.

If you are involved in an interstate child custody case, you may want to contact a qualified child custody attorney or family lawyer.

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