When parents of a minor child get a divorce, child custody is a critical issue of contention. When a court issues a final divorce decree, it usually includes custody orders that stay in effect for years afterward. Custody orders can be modified later, but traditionally only the court that issued the custody order has jurisdiction to modify it. The traditional system became a burden for divorced parents residing in different states because the issue of deciding which state court had jurisdiction to determine custody matters was difficult to resolve.
As a result, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) was created to encourage interstate cooperation regarding child custody determinations between different states. Accordingly, each state has ratified the provisions of the UCCJEA into their statutory regime regarding family law matters.
The UCCJEA still recognizes that the state court that issued a custody order retains exclusive and continuing jurisdiction with regard to custody matters. However, the issuing state’s jurisdiction will terminate if the child and their parents or guardians no longer have a significant connection to the state.
When the child and his or her parents are no longer significantly connected to the issuing state, the UCCJEA prioritizes which state has jurisdiction to make custody determinations.
Under the UCCJEA, jurisdiction for determining custody issues is prioritized in the following order:
- Home state. The UCCJEA gives priorty to the state where the child has lived with a parent or guardian for the past 6 months. Jurisdiction exists in the child’s home state or a state where the child previously lived within the past 6 months.
- Significant Connection. Jurisdiction exists in a state that has a significant connection with the child and one of their parents. Demonstrating a significant connection with the state requires substantial evidence of care, protection, education and personal relationships in said state.
- More appropriate forum. If both the child’s home state and a state with a significant connection to the child decline jurisdiction on the basis that another state court would be a more appropriate forum, jurisdiction is proper in that state.
- No other state. Jurisdiction exists for any other state if no state qualifies as either a home state, significant connection, or more appropriate forum state.
- Emergency. If a child is present in a state and is under threat of being harmed or mistreated, that state may exercise temporary emergency jurisdiction if necessary to prevent harm to the child.
Call Our Altamonte Springs Child Custody Attorney for Advice
If you and your child are facing custody issues from another parent or family member in another state, you should find a qualified Altamonte Springs family lawyer with experience handling interstate child custody issues that are subject to the UCCJEA. Luckily, at the Law Office of Russell S. Hershkowitz, LLC, our lead attorney has experience dealing with interstate custody issues. As our client, you can count on us to provide top-tier advocacy backed by more than 35 years of experience.
Contact us online, or call (407) 753-4111 to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Hershkowitz today.