Child custody cases can get complicated, especially if the parents reside in different states. Jurisdictions vary depending on location, and determining custody may not be so straightforward. In addition, a scenario may arise whereby a parent petitions the judge for a new custody hearing despite the existence of a child custody order determined by a judge in a different state. It may create confusion and conflict with the children at the eye of the storm.
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) was enacted to prevent such situations and limit infighting that often comes up in interstate child custody cases. It has been adopted by most states, including New York, and provides a legal framework for determining which state has jurisdiction in interstate child custody disputes.
How is jurisdiction determined?
Under UCCJEA, a state court can determine a child custody dispute if:
- The child had lived in the state for six months before the legal action was brought in court.
- The child has established significant relationships with people in the state. These people may include teachers, doctors or even friends.
- The child is in the state for their safety or has been abandoned.
- No state can meet the above conditions.
Once a court determines the child custody dispute, the state will maintain exclusive jurisdiction. All other matters regarding the case will be heard in the state unless both parents relocate or if it is determined that the state does not have any significant connections to the child.
If you are involved in an interstate child custody battle, protect your rights by learning more about such cases. Things may get a bit complex since each child custody dispute has its unique issues which may alter the expected course. Staying ahead of the situation will increase the likelihood of a desirable outcome for you.