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How are Multi-State Child Custody Cases Resolved?

Mother and daughter.

In the modern world, it is not uncommon for people to move between states. This can make certain family law cases significantly more challenging to resolve. Most notably, if you are involved in a child custody dispute, and your child’s other parent lives in another state, there will be an additional layer of complexity added to your case. It is crucial that you hire a Clearwater child custody attorney who has the skills and experience required to handle a multi-jurisdictional case.

Multi-State Child Custody Laws: Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) 

With multi-state child custody cases, the most important law that you need to know about is the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). This is the law that controls which court will have jurisdiction to hear your child custody/visitation case. As of May of 2018, 49 of the 50 U.S. states have signed on to the UCCJEA. Massachusetts is the only remaining exception. There are two main things that Florida parents need to know about the UCCJEA:

  1. Under the law, a court in the child’s ‘home state’ will have jurisdiction to handle any custody/visitation issues; and
  2. Family law courts must enforce any legally valid child custody or visitation orders that are from a different state.

In essence, this law prevents parents from ‘kidnapping’ a child and taking them out of state in order to get away from the child custody order that they do not like. If a child custody order has been issued by a court in Clearwater, Florida, that order will still be valid in other states, whether it is just over the border in Georgia, or all the way across the country in California.

How Do You Define a Child’s Home State? 

The UCCJEA gives jurisdictional power to the child’s ‘home state’. In some cases, a child’s home state is very easy to determine. If your kid was born in Florida, and they have always lived in the same community, there is no question that Florida is the appropriate state to hear the case. In other cases, defining the home state can be far more complicated. To resolve this jurisdictional question, the UCCJEA instructs family law courts to review the following four questions:

  1. Where did the child live for the six months immediately preceding the filing of the custody case?
  2. What evidence can be presented that the child has a ‘substantial connection’ to a particular state?
  3. Are there any emergency considerations that make jurisdiction in a particular state appropriate?
  4. Is there a jurisdictional ‘vacuum’ that needs to be filled?

If a court does not have jurisdiction, then it cannot hear the case. If you are involved in a dispute over jurisdiction in a multi-state custody case, you should speak to an experienced family law attorney immediately.

Contact Our Clearwater Child Custody Lawyer Today  

At the Law Offices of Gale H. Moore P.A., we have deep experience handling complex child custody cases. If you are involved in a multi-state child custody dispute, our legal team is ready to help. To arrange your fully confidential initial consultation, please call us today at 727-584-2528. We represent parents in Clearwater, FL, and throughout the wider region.



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