Interstate Jurisdiction – Multi State Confusion in Child Custody Disputes

Child custody issues can be difficult for the parties involved at any time, but when the custody case crosses a state line, Dallas family law attorney Mark Nacol warns that many more conflicts and problems may arise.

Most states follow a uniform law regarding determination of appropriate state jurisdiction in custody matters known as the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and related statutes laws which enforce or set procedures regarding proper jurisdiction such as the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act.  Texas has adopted these statutes. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act defines which state has or may maintain jurisdiction in a particular case and often mandates that other states recognize decisions handed down by the state determined to have jurisdiction.

The Act states, among other things, that a court may rule on custody issues if the Child:

  • Has continually lived in that state for 6 months or longer
  • Was living in the state before being wrongfully taken elsewhere by a parent seeking custody in another state
  • Has an established relationship with people (family, relatives or teachers), ties, and attachments in the state
  • Has been abandoned: or is safe in current state, but could be in danger of neglect or abuse in the home state

There are a number of core factors involved in determining which state is appropriate to initiate or maintain an existing suit.  Usually, there are only two states involved, but it is possible to have more than two states involved in cases where there is a frequent moving of the parties and or the children.  Generally, any state in which one of the parties and the child has continually resided for a year may establish venue to commence a lawsuit.

The Nacol Law Firm PC represents parents trying to enforce these laws; cases where there is a need to persuade courts to apply the specific, narrow exceptions to these general rules in order to have custody cases heard in the most convenient forum in which the most evidence is available; cases where the child’s home state or other basic questions need to be clarified, and cases where a parent has violated or has been falsely accused of violating these laws.

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