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How interstate child custody works in New York

On Behalf of | May 1, 2024 | Child Custody

For parents living in New York who are subject to custody arrangements, life can become even more complex than usual when their child’s other parent relocates to another state.

Questions can arise about which state has jurisdiction over the case, how existing custody orders are enforced and how to navigate future modifications. Familiarizing oneself with the intricacies of interstate child custody in New York can help alleviate some of this stress.

Determining jurisdiction: The UCCJEA and the six-month rule

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) is a federal law adopted by all states, including New York. This act streamlines child custody cases involving multiple states by establishing a clear system for determining jurisdiction, which is the legal authority to hear the case. The cornerstone of the UCCJEA is the home state concept.

The child’s home state is generally the state where the child lived with a parent for at least six consecutive months immediately before the custody proceeding begins. If the child is younger than six months old, the home state is typically the state where the child has lived since birth. This six-month rule prevents forum shopping, a situation where a parent strategically moves a child to a state perceived to be more favorable for their custody case.

Here’s an example: If a child lived with both parents in New York for two years, then one parent moves to California, New York would likely retain jurisdiction because it was the child’s home state for more than six months.

Understanding the UCCJEA’s framework and how it applies in New York provides a foundation for navigating interstate child custody matters. Parents facing interstate child custody situations can benefit from seeking legal support to help protect their children’s well-being and uphold their rights as their situations evolve.


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