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Interstate Child Custody


Generally, when a minor child's parents live in different states, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) determines which state has jurisdiction in child custody disputes. The law was passed to eliminate the confusion if courts in two states made conflicting custody decisions during a divorce. The UCCJEA requires all states to cooperate with each other and honor child custody orders issued in other states.

Generally, a state may hear a child custody case if the child has lived in the state for at least six months. If a parent moves a child from the state where he or she lived for six months, the court in the child's home state typically may still hear the case.

Other state courts may have jurisdiction depending upon the circumstances of the divorce, but a child being present in a state doesn't necessarily mean that state has jurisdiction. Generally, The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act gives preference of jurisdiction to the child’s home state.

Factors That May Allow a State to Hear a Child Custody Case

  • Significant connections to another state
  • Evidence about the case in another state
  • Emergency situations or child abandonment
  • Abuse or neglect and the need for immediate protection
  • No other state could legally hear the case
  • Other states have declined to hear the case

After the divorce court in one state accepts jurisdiction of a child custody case, it is likely that no other state can hear the case.

Speak with a Divorce Attorney about Interstate Child Custody

Court jurisdiction has many exceptions and depends on the specific case. Speak with a divorce attorney to see what state has jurisdiction over your child custody case and how it may affect your and your child. Find a local divorce lawyer in the area by calling 877-349-1310 or filling out a divorce case review form to connect with a local divorce attorney today. If your child custody case doesn't involve divorce, Total Divorce can still help you find a local attorney who is familiar with family law.

Case Evaluation

The above synopsis of child custody laws is by no means all-inclusive and is not intended to serve as legal advice. These laws may have changed since our last update and there may be additional laws that apply in your situation. For the latest information on these child custody laws, please contact a local divorce lawyer in your area.