Today’s society is a mobile one, and people are moving now more than ever. As such, many parents find themselves, or the other parent, moving to a different state. But, what happens if one of the parent’s wants to file for a modification of custody? Do they have to file in the state that made the initial custody determination? Can they file in the state that they just moved to? How do court’s treat custody cases that involve multiple states? Well, it depends. In this blog, we look to answer these questions and look at when Indiana is the appropriate state to file for custody modification.
Before discussing whether you can file for modification in Indiana, it is important to briefly discuss the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (“UCCJA”). Every state has some version of what Indiana calls the UCCJA. The UCCJA was designed to answer jurisdictional questions when multiple states are involved in a custody determination. Moreover, the UCCJA was enacted so that states could “communicate” (for lack of better terms) with each other when it comes to making a custody determination. States want to prevent conflicting custody orders that may result from one parent filing in one state and the other filing in another. In a nutshell, the UCCJA is a uniform body of law that pre-determines which state should exercise jurisdiction in child custody cases. Therefore, in Indiana (and all other states), there must be certain requirements met before you can file for custody modification in Indiana, which are laid out in the statutory code.
Indiana has jurisdiction to modify a child custody order from another state in several different situations. First, Indiana can modify custody if the court determines that the court of the other state no longer has exclusive jurisdiction. Second, Indiana can modify custody if an Indiana Court would be more convenient forum. Third, Indiana can modify custody if the court determines that the child, the child’s parents, and any person acting as a parent no longer reside in the other state. Finally, in addition to having one of the requirements above, Indiana must also have had the ability to make an initial custody determination under the relevant statutory code.
The brief overview of the UCCJA is just that, brief. Ultimately, determining where to file for custody is an extremely fact sensitive analysis. For instance, there are exceptions in the UCCJA when, even if the above conditions aren’t met, Indiana can still exercise jurisdiction. What is important to know is there is a uniform body of law that governs which states can exercise jurisdiction. Just because Indiana has jurisdiction does not necessarily mean that another state wouldn’t have jurisdiction, and in those instances, the court that commences custody proceedings first will ultimately have jurisdiction. If you want to file in Indiana, time is of the essence.
Child custody proceedings can be a trying time for individuals. The fact sensitivity of these types of jurisdictional questions leads to a lot of confusion for many. Not to mention, these are very personal and emotional matters for people. It is helpful to seek the assistance of an attorney to help navigate through the process. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys practice throughout the State of Indiana and understand the significance of custody proceedings and planning for the same. This blog post is written by Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates and is not intended as specific legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.