child custody in a divorce can be a contentious and complicated matter in any scenario,
especially if a child’s parents live in two different states. When
parents involved in a custody battle do not live in the same state, this
can create instances where more than one state could have jurisdiction
over child custody and
visitation. To solve these issues, the states have implemented numerous laws and
interstate agreements to minimize confusion and create a uniform structure.
What Is the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act?
In order to solve issues of conflicting jurisdiction, the Uniform Child
Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) was created. Every state
and the District of Columbia has enacted its own version of the UCCJEA,
though the variations between states are often minimal. Generally speaking,
a state is given the power to make a custody decision about a child if:
The state is the child’s home state: A child’s “home state” is the state in which they have
lived for the previous six months.
The child has a substantial number of connections with people in the state: These connections can include connections to doctors, teachers,
grandparents, and other personal relationships important to the child’s care
The child’s safety could be jeopardized if sent back: A state may make a decision regarding child custody if sending the child
back to the other state would possibly lead to abandonment, abuse, or neglect.
No state can satisfy the above tests: A state may decide custody if no state can meet the above criteria or
otherwise has declined to assert its jurisdiction.
If multiple states meet the above criteria and share jurisdiction, only
one state can make a decision. Whichever state issues a custody order
first will carry the enforceability of law and cannot be overridden by
the other states. Additionally, if a parent wrongfully removes a child
from their home state or retains them in another state in order to make
that state the child’s new home state, the parent cannot be granted
custody. This protects against parents who wish to kidnap a child and
seek a custody order without informing the other spouse or the court of
What Is the Full Faith and Credit Clause?
Judges in every state are required to enforce valid judgements and decrees
that are issued in courts in other states under the United States Constitution’s
“Full Faith and Credit Clause.” Despite the existence of this
clause, judges in the past frequently would dismiss interstate custody
arrangements and issue new orders based on the evidence presented before
them at the time. This would lead to considerable confusion and create
situations where multiple conflicting custody arrangements would be directed
towards the same child at the same time. Thankfully, with the introduction
of the UCCJEA, most of these issues no longer apply.
Top-Rated Family Lawyers in Riverside
If you are in need of high quality legal representation for your child
custody dispute, look no further than the knowledgeable
Riverside family lawyers at Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich. Our skilled attorneys have more
than 50 years of combined legal experience and can provide the results-driven
counsel you need.
Take advantage of your free case evaluation or call our office today at (951) 687-6003 to discuss your case in further detail.