Once the first child custody order is issued by the court, that becomes binding to both parents and the child. If one parent is granted legal physical custody, he or she due to changes in circumstances may decide to move with the child to another state, where the other parent may continue living in the current state.
For a parent who has no legal physical custody, it is impossible to move to another state with the child without seeking court approval. For that case, a parent intending to move with the child to another state must give legitimate reasons before it is granted by the court.
Even after being granted to move to another state with the child, the child custody jurisdictions remain with that state.
Jurisdiction matters are even complicated if the custodial parent moves to another state, and the other parent who has visitation rights moves to another state that is different from that of the custodial parent after the first custody order has been issued.
Matters of jurisdiction over child custody matters would have been more complex if not for the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). This act gives the initial state that gave the first child custody orders an exclusive continuing jurisdiction over child custody matters. It is only until there is a significant cause to prove that the child and the parents no longer have a connection with that state.
However, it does not happen automatically like that. One parent or both parents must apply for a change of jurisdiction for consideration by the courts.
If a parent moves to a different state like Georgia and the state that issued the first custody orders is Florida, regardless of the time spent in Georgia, if that parent files for modifications of child custody in Georgia, the Georgia court does not have jurisdictions to make any decisions regarding that matter until the parent seeks for a change of jurisdiction.
The Georgia court in the above case would respect the jurisdictions of the first court that issued the first child custody orders in Florida as per what the UCCJEA states.
Which state has jurisdiction over child custody?
The state that issued the first child custody order has jurisdiction over the matter until when the parents seek a change of jurisdiction and is granted by the court upon proving significant changes in circumstances and disconnection by the child and the parent or parents to that home state.
The home state, according to UCCJEA, is a place where the parents or an individual who acts as the parent lived for at least six months before custody was filed, or where the child has lived with the parent since birth if the child is below the age of six months.
Factors that a judge would consider before a change of jurisdiction
After registering your original child custody order with the court for a change of jurisdiction, a judge would consider some factors before deciding on whether the previous is inconvenient for the child and the parent or parents. Those considerations must be in line with the UCCJEA act and may include:
- The time that the child and the parent have spent outside of the home state.
- The distance between the home state and the new state where the parent and the child currently reside.
- The agreement by both parents to change jurisdiction.
- The courts’ familiarity with the matters regarding the custody case.
- The financial states of the parties involved.
Enforcing child custody orders in a different state
Since most states have adopted the UCCJEA act, it would be difficult for a court to assume jurisdictions of a custody case that was earlier determined by the home state. For the state to enforce the custody order, the parties must seek for a change in jurisdictions, then when the changes have been successfully made, the jurisdictions of that matter remain with the new state or court, and that state court can now enforce the child custody order.
Reasons that necessitate the change of jurisdiction
Change of jurisdiction can be necessitated when a parent who holds custody of the child moves to another state due to changes in circumstances. This may happen after the first custody order by the home state has been issued and the parent may seek to have changes in jurisdictions to suit the current changes in location.
Both parents may also move to different states and agree to have a change in jurisdictions to suit their current changes. This may also come if there is a need for modifications and both parents no longer live in the home state where the first order was issued.
How to change jurisdiction for child custody
Even before you think of changing the jurisdiction for child custody, it is important to have the advice of an experienced attorney who is conversant with the same matters to help you navigate the process easily.
An experience of Lyn Perkins who petitioned the court with the help of an attorney was able to have her requests for change of jurisdictions granted after convincing the court that her children were just beginning school in that new area and that new place is where her children would grow up, and that it was in the best interests of the children to have jurisdictions changed to suit the new location.
Therefore, to change a child custody jurisdiction, you will need to register your original custody order with the court, and when the court finds a reasonable cause, and with the cooperation of the home state court, your request to change can be considered.
However, you need to work with an attorney if you have no idea how to go about the process or want to make things easy for yourself.
As we have mentioned, changing jurisdiction for child custody can be easier or complex depending on your new location, where the other parent resides, and other factors as we have discussed above. While it is possible to have a change in jurisdiction, it is also important to note that all are done within the pretext of the UCCJEA Act.