When parents split up, they don’t always stay in the same state. It makes custody issues more complicated, but sometimes it is unavoidable. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) was enacted in 1997 to provide some consistency and guidance in interstate custody cases.
The Child’s Home State
“Home state” is defined as the state where the child has lived for the last six months. A parent must file for custody in the child’s “home state”. This becomes important in cases where one parent takes a child and moves to another state, and then tries to get custody. Parents do this for many reasons. Sometimes they think the state will favor them. Sometimes, just to make it more difficult for the other parent to participate in custody proceedings.
The exception to the requirement of filing in the child’s home state does not apply if the child has been removed from the state for their safety or for the parent’s safety. In other words, when one parent takes the child and flees the state because the other parent is a threat to the child or the parent who fled, the home state requirement is lifted.
Custodial Parent Wants to Move Out-of-State
When custody has already been established with both parents living in the same state, the custodial parent cannot simply decide to move away and take the child with them. Each state has different requirements. In some states the custodial parent must give the non-custodial parent enough notice to allow them to fight the move or request physical custody. Some states require the custodial parent to prove that the move is in the bests interests of the child while other states put the burden on the non-custodial parent.
If you are facing interstate child custody issues, or think you may be in the near future, please talk to an experienced family law attorney.