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Interstate Custody Jurisdiction



Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act

This law discusses how courts of two or more states decide which court should resolve a child custody case when parents seek to utilize different jurisdictions to resolve a custody dispute. This happens when parents live in different states.

To determine which state has proper jurisdiction to make an “initial determination” of child custody, the UCCJEA proceeds in the following order of priority:

1. The state which is the “home state” of the child, or was the child’s home state, within six months immediately before the commencement of child custody proceedings if the child is absent from the state, as long as a parent or person acting as a parent continues to live in the state;

2. If no state has jurisdiction under #1, then jurisdiction is proper where the child and at least one parent have a significant connection with the state (other than mere presence), and substantial evidence concerning the custody determination is available in the state;

3. If no state has jurisdiction under #1 or #2 above, jurisdiction is proper in any state having an appropriate connection with the child.

A state having jurisdiction under #1 or #2 above may decline to exercise its jurisdiction, and transfer it to another state if it is more convenient for the parties, or if one of the parties has engaged in misconduct necessitating a change.

“Home state” is defined as the state in which a child lived with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least six consecutive months immediately before the commencement of a child custody proceeding. In the case of a child less than six months of age, the term means the state in which the child lived from birth with any of the persons mentioned. A period of temporary absence does not affect determination of the home state.

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