Interstate Child Custody Orders

What You Need to Know About Custody Orders Between States

Although it can be difficult, it is not uncommon for divorced or unmarried parents to live in separate states. This type of arrangement can be challenging when it comes to determining how joint custody of a child will work between the parents. However, before parents start to argue about which state the child will be living in, it is important to note that child custody orders that are valid in one state can be enforced in nearly every other state. A custodial parent can’t just decide to grab the child and move to another state without first adhering to specific procedures that are designed to protect the best interest of the child.

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction & Enforcement Act

Most states have a statute called the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. This act establishes standards for courts when making custody determinations and also sets forth when a court should rely on an existing determination made in another state. Out of America’s 50 states, only Massachusetts and Vermont do not subscribe to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.

Under this act, state courts can decide about a child custody arrangement if:

  • The decision making state is the child’s home state
  • The child has important connections with people living in the state
  • The child is living in the state for the purpose of their safety

If a state court cannot meet any of these requirements, it cannot issue a child custody judgment, even if the child is already residing in the state. If one parent wrongfully relocates with or keeps a child in a state for the purposes of making that state the child's home state, they will be denied custody. Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, only one state can issue a child custody judgment, even if both states meet the criteria listed above. This means that the state to issue the judgment first will be the binding state.

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act helps to keep consistency within interstate child custody decrees and assists with issues that arise when one parent kidnaps a child and tries to seek a custody award without informing the courts about the circumstances of another state’s decree.

The U.S constitution includes the “Full Faith and Credit Clause," which requires a judge to enforce valid judgments and degrees made by courts in different states. In the past however, judges would disregard interstate custody arrangements from other states and opt to issue new orders and judgments instead. Because of this practice, there could be several different custody awards all aimed towards one child. But thanks to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, many of these issues no longer occur in interstate child custody cases.

Do you need help resolving an interstate child custody dispute between you and your spouse? We can help. At Peter L. Cedeño & Associates, P.C., we focus solely on divorce and family law cases. We understand how challenging and emotionally difficult divorce and separation can be. Our team of skilled attorneys is devoted to providing all of our client with the highest level of service and legal support that we possibly can. We will go the extra mile for you and your family.

Contact our NYC divorce attorney to request your free case consultation today.

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