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How interstate custody battles work

If you and your spouse are getting a divorce, you may live in different states. This can complicate a variety of legal, financial and emotional issues, especially in regards to child custody. Fighting for custody rights across state lines can get ugly and complex. 

So, how can you resolve interstate custody battles? Here is an overview of the laws that govern this issue and how the courts work in these situations.

Child custody jurisdiction laws

The main concern in an interstate custody fight is which state court determines the custody arrangement. Thankfully, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act exists to resolve this very question. Here are the core tenants of this law:

  • The child's home state: The state in which the child has resided with a parent for a minimum of six months before legal action. 
  • Significant connections in the state: Important relationships include those with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, doctors and teachers. 
  • Safety reasons: This refers to a child being in a different state because of an imminent threat of neglect, abuse or abandonment. 

If a state does not meet any of these requirements, the court cannot make a judgment regarding custody. On the other hand, if multiple states meet any of these tests, the first court to issue a judgment is usually the legally binding one. 

Relocation and abduction

You should be wary of relocating your child with little to no notice to the other parent. If you move the child to another state without going through the formal process, the ramification may be you losing custody. Unless you can prove there is a fear of abuse or neglect, avoid the temptation to take your child across state lines. 

Figuring out custody and visitation can be difficult enough in normal situations. When parents live in different states, the matter can get even messier.

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