Custody of Children When Parents are in Different States

Generally, when you and the other parent of your children can’t agree on who should get custody you both go down to the courthouse, get an order from the judge, and that’s that.

But things can get a bit more complicated when the other parent lives in a different state from you. For example, what happens when you go to the courthouse and get an order, and the other parent goes to the courthouse in their state, and suddenly, you have two conflicting orders issued by two different states?

To deal with this kind of problem, almost every state, including Florida, has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). The UCCJEA provides a system of rules that dictate which state should be responsible for issuing custody orders. Because most states follow these same rules, courts know when they should issue a custody order and when they shouldn’t.

Although the UCCJEA can be fairly complex, one of the core ways to determine which state should be issuing the initial orders is determined by looking at the first of:

  1. The child’s home state, which is where the child has been residing for the past six consecutive months; or
  2. If there is no home state, then the state where one parent resides, the child has the most significant connection, and where substantial evidence is available; or
  3. If state’s 1 or 2 above decline jurisdiction, then any state a parent files in; or
  4. If no state satisfies any of the above, then any state where a parent files suit.

These are just the basics, and the UCCJEA can get fairly complex. So if you have a child custody issue you should speak with an experienced family law attorney.

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