Settling custody issues when parents live in different states

Child custody is a delicate, often complex matter that can have lasting effects on the children involved. When one parent lives in California, but the other parent lives out of state, and a custody issue comes up, the process can become even more complicated. However, there are clear rules for how courts in all states address child custody issues in this situation.

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)

This act provides consistency in the way all states and the District of Columbia handle custody issues when parents live in different states. It establishes clear rules for when custody decisions can be made by one state and when a state must defer to the decisions made in a different state. The conflicts created by parental kidnapping or disputes between parents in different states can be resolved completely.

Tests to determine if a state has jurisdiction in a custody case

The UCCJEA sets up a variety of tests a state can meet to determine if a child custody decision can be made or modified there. The standards include:

• No other state meets the tests established by the UCCJEA.

• Another state meets the tests established by the UCCJEA, but that state’s court defers to the other state for custody decisions.

• It is the child’s home state, or where the child lives or had lived until a parent took him or her to another state.

• It is the state where the child’s personal connections, such as to family members and caretakers, are strongest.

• It’s the state where the child is present but has been abandoned or if the child risks being abused or neglected in the other state.

Since this type of child custody issue involves different states, individuals who are dealing with this issue may benefit from speaking with a family law attorney. A lawyer may provide guidance and representation during the process.

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