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What to Consider When the Other Parent Lives in Another State
Almost every state across the U.S. has enacted a statute called the “Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.” Under this statute, standards are set for courts to make custody decisions and standards for when the court must yield to an existing custody decision that came from another state. Currently, only the states of Vermont and Massachusetts are not in alignment with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. Generally, under this act, a court may make a decision about a child custody agreement if one of the following has occurred:
The court making the decision is in the child’s home state
For a state to be considered a child’s “home state,” the child must have lived with one of his or her parents in that state for a period of at least six months before legal action has taken place, or the child must have been living in that state but was removed from the state by a parent.
The child has important ties to individuals living in that state
These ties can include connections with doctors, teachers, or grandparents among other relationships. Additionally, there needs to be substantial evidence inside that state concerning the care and protection of the child as well as any training or personal relationships he or she may currently have or need to have, such as friendships.
The child is residing in that state for safety reasons
In general, this means that the child is residing in that state after being taken out of another state for their safety, usually from fear of neglect, abuse, or abandonment should the child be sent back to the state from which he or she was removed.
No other state can meet one of the three above criteria
Generally, this means that no other state can meet any of the criteria or situations outlined above, or that the state can meet at least one of the three above criteria but has declined to assert judgement over the issue.
As outline in the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, if a state cannot meet any of the above criteria, the court cannot issue a judgement on child custody even if the child is currently living in the state. Additionally, if a parent has removed or retained the child wrongfully within a state to make it the child’s home state, that parent can ultimately be denied child custody.