Child custody jurisdiction refers to the state in which child custody determinations hold legal merit. After a divorce or separation, it is not uncommon for a parent to leave the state where the child was raised when both parents were together. In this instance, the state that will be allowed to make future custody determinations is called into question. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act was put in place so that multiple states do not utilize their resources to make custody determinations regarding the same child. The act sets standards for which state will be allowed jurisdiction in child custody disputes as well as under what circumstances custody jurisdiction may be changed.
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act allows "temporary emergency jurisdiction" to the state where the child resides so that the child or other family members may avoid abuse. Other family members may include siblings or the child's parent. The courts will be allowed jurisdiction to make only temporary orders until the emergency has been resolved. The courts are required to remain in contact with the home state to allow the other party the opportunity to be heard.
No Significant Connection
Child custody jurisdiction may be changed if it has been decided that a child has "no significant connection" to the state in which the original custody determination was made. In most cases, the original state is the home state in which the child was raised and lived with both parents before a divorce or separation. Careful consideration will be put into this change. If one parent still remains in the original state, it is unlikely that a change of jurisdiction will occur because the parent is considered to be the child's "significant connection." If neither parent resides in the original state, or if there is no home state, the chances of the jurisdiction being changed increases. Both parents have the right to request that jurisdiction be changed to their respective state though only one state will be allowed jurisdiction. This will be based on the ties the child has to that state such as extended family or school.
Jurisdiction has Been Declined
Child custody jurisdiction may be changed if the original state has declined jurisdiction. The court with jurisdiction may decline to exercise it after deciding that another state would be better able to decide custody. The initial state might reach this conclusion after considering factors such as how long the child has lived outside of the initial state and whether or not domestic violence is in question. Also, a state may decline jurisdiction if the party requesting the change has acted inappropriately. For example, jurisdiction must be declined if a parent fled the state with a child for the sole purpose of the original state losing its jurisdiction.
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