Interstate Child Custody and Visitation Lawyers
Which State's Courts Can Make Custody Decisions for My Child?
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act sets the standard for when a court can make a custody decision and when they must send the case to another court. These are the criteria for which a state has jurisdiction to make a decision about the child:
- The state is the child's home state. This is where the child has resided for the previous six months or was residing prior to a parent taking the child to another state.
- The child has significant connections with people, such as grandparents, teachers and doctors in a state, and there is enough evidence concerning the child's care, personal relationship, protection and training there.
- The child is in the state and has either been abandoned or is in danger of being neglected if sent back to another state.
- No other state can meet the above criteria or another state can meet one but has declined to make a custody decision.
What Happens If a Parent Wishes To Move A Child To Another State Temporarily, Such As For a Vacation Or To Visit Another Family Member?
If a parent wishes to move a child to another state temporarily, then the other parent must give consent. Furthermore, such a move must be within the boundaries of the child custody agreement. This applies to both the custodian parent and the visiting parent.
What Happens if a Parent Moves a Child to Create a Home in Another State?
If one parent removes a child to create a home state or a significant connections state, the parent will be denied custody. If more than one state meets the above standards (e.g., the child has "significant connections" in two states) the state that first makes a custody decision is the state with jurisdiction.
The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act prevents parents from delaying or changing a child custody decision by moving a child across state lines. The act forbids other states from making a custody ruling about the child if another state is already in the process of making such a decision. The new state in which the child is in can only make such a custody ruling if the state the child was previously in either lost or declined the right to hear the case.
For example, a child resides in Texas as a home state and a court in Texas is in the process of deciding child custody. One of the parents moves the child to Florida and petitions the Florida courts to grant the parent child custody. Under the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, the courts in Florida are barred from making a child custody decree unless the Texas court decides it cannot make a ruling.
If a parent removes a child without the consent of the other parent in an attempt to deprive the other parent of the child, then it is considered parental kidnapping, a felony.
Do I Need a Lawyer for My Custody Case?
If you are seeking to establish or modify custody for your children, it may be wise to consult with a family lawyer to discuss your options. Working with an experienced family lawyer can help you understand your rights and deal with the complicated legal system.
Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 05-30-2012 02:43 PM PDT