Child custody is usually decided by the state in which you and the child live. But, as discussed in a previous post, ascertaining where the child “lives” and thus which court holds jurisdiction can be a tricky and complicated issue. This post will continue going through the factors that the court considers and how it may apply to you.
As discussed before, the UCCJEA governs interstate child custody disputes. The UCCJEA imposes four tests that all courts must run through to determine if they can assert jurisdiction.
The first test asks the court to consider whether it is the child’s home state. The home state is established if the child lived with a parent in the same state for at least six months before litigation. The child may also be considered a resident if, but for the other parent removing her, would be living in that state (kidnapping issues).
If the child does not meet that test, the court then determines the amount of connections the child has to the state. The more significant and numerous the connections, the more likely the court can assert jurisdiction. The court weighs its connections with other jurisdictions that may also have connections.
Two other tests will be addressed in the third installment of this series.
If you are engaged in an interstate child custody dispute, you still need to submit paperwork authenticating your position, even if you, the lawyer, and the judge all know your position is right. You need to show up and contest it or risk waiving your right to do so. A lawyer can help you find a local attorney to represent and assist you. You don’t need to handle this on your own; an attorney can help.