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How interstate child custody is handled

Child custody is a topic that could spawn thousands of blog posts. It is a complicated and emotionally-charged matter that is of great concern to any parents who are going through with, or have completed, a divorce. Today, we want to focus on just one of the many possible issues connected to the idea of child custody: and that is interstate child custody.

After a couple completes a divorce, each spouse will move on with their lives. This will often lead to one of the individuals moving to a different city, or even state. When they cross state lines and start living in a different state, some issues can arise if the formerly-married people have a child together. So how does interstate child custody work?

Nearly every state has laws that make up the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. These laws set the standard for how parents and states will decide how child custody matters are dealt with when the parents live in separate states. But which court makes the decision?

In order for a court to make a decision under these uniform laws, they must meet one of these requirements (and they are in order of preference):

  • The state is the child's "home state," which means that the child lived there for at least six months prior to any legal action being brought.
  • Significant connections for the child, meaning that the child has grandparents or other critical people (such as doctors or teachers) that live in the state.
  • The child's safety is of the utmost importance, so if a fear of abuse is relevant, then the appropriate state court can make a ruling on the matter.
  • A court can make a decision if the above three guidelines are inapplicable.

Source: FindLaw, "Interstate Custody Arrangements," Accessed March 30, 2017

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