In the 1960s and 1970s, a parent and the kids would sometimes go on “vacation” and while away, the spouse with the children would file for divorce in another state to gain custody. This because so problematic (as is the case with child support enforcement) a uniform child custody (litigation) act was passed into1 law in all states. This law, which all other states recognize with some exceptions, dictates the child’s “home state” is where divorce and custody proceedings subsequent custody must occur. A child’s home state is where the child has lived for six months prior to the divorce filing.
The home state continues to have custody jurisdiction until the children and no parent lives in the state. This uniform law was passed to avoid state-to-state child custody disputes over the proper state for litigation. This uniform child custody jurisdiction act may even apply to international disputes over custody.2 However, custodial parents who have moved, sometimes find themselves in the situation wherein subsequent custody disputes of any type years later, the state where the parent and children live is where all the “evidence” is about what is in the children’s best interest. Specifically, the children’s friends, teachers, church, doctors and the like who would have the evidence necessary for the court to make a more accurate decision is no longer where the family used to live, notwithstanding the fact the “old” state still has jurisdiction.
In these circumstances, there is a provision in the uniform child custody jurisdiction acts to allow moving the case. In essence, through the process domesticating a foreign order (from the other state) and registering it in the “new” state, your counsel may work with you to move the custody case to the new state. While complex and may require counsel for you in both the old and new states, the respective courts can ask the court that has jurisdiction to relinquish it to the state where you live with the children because this is a more convenient forum for the custody proceedings to proceed in. Ultimately, counsels assist to effectuate a judge-to-judge conference to determine if the judge who still has custody will relinquish the jurisdiction to the state where you live. The outcome of this process will determine where the litigation will take place.
Such uniform provisions between the state on child custody jurisdiction reflect the commitment of all states in the Nation to work together, not against each other as had been the case in the past, to meet the best interests of the children. So, the short answer to the question is the highly technical child custody jurisdiction provision is “yes” a case may be moved to a more convenient forum in the right circumstances. This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle child custody cases throughout the State. This blog is written for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to solicit services or legal advice. It is an advertisement.