Actress Olivia Wilde will officially retain custody of the children she shares with comedian Jason Sudeikis after being served court papers on stage during a presentation at CinemaCon in April.
Sudeikis had petitioned the court to receive full custody of their two children in October of 2021, requesting to have the case heard in his home state of New York and to have the children move with him there full-time. However, as of August, the New York court has determined that the state does not have jurisdiction over the kids. Instead, the case will be heard in California, where the children currently live with Wilde.
By naming California as the state with jurisdiction, the court has altered the rest of the couple’s contentious custody battle. Here’s why jurisdiction matters in interstate cases like this and what you can learn from Sudeikis and Wilde’s divorce.
How Is Interstate Child Custody Determined?
Custody is not directly covered by federal law. Instead, it is left to individual states to determine how parenting time should be divided and orders enforced. This often makes interstate disputes significantly more complicated than single-state disputes.
However, to simplify matters, most states have implemented some form of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). This act has been adopted with minor differences by all states except Massachusetts. It is intended to simplify disputes and ensure that kids are only subject to one order at a time.
The UCCJEA set an essential standard for couples fighting for custody across state lines. Only the state in which the kids reside has jurisdiction over these disputes. This is determined by considering factors such as:
- In which state the child has lived longest overall
- Where they have lived most frequently in the past several years
- Where the child has the strongest familial and community bonds
In the case of Wilde and Sudeikis, while the children were born in New York State, the court found that they had spent more time and had stronger ties to California. Therefore, California was named the home state and has jurisdiction.
This has two impacts. First, it makes it easier for Wilde to attend related hearings in person because they will occur in her home county. Second, it sets a precedent that benefits Wilde by naming California the children’s home state. This may be taken as evidence in court that it is in the children’s best interest to remain in California, regardless of Sudeikis’ request to have them move to New York.
However, this does not mean Sudeikis has no chance of receiving time with his kids. California prefers to award joint custody unless one parent can prove that it is unsafe for the children to spend time with their other parent. It currently appears that the couple is likely to share legal and physical responsibilities, but the kids will spend more time in person with Wilde.
Pursue Interstate Custody of Your Kids With Viola Law Firm, APC
Interstate custody is rarely a simple matter. If you’re facing a dispute similar to Olivia Wilde and Jason Sudeikis, you should reach out to the experts at Viola Law Firm, APC. Our experienced California child custody lawyers will help you determine the best way to approach your dispute and fight for time with your children. Schedule your consultation today to learn more.