Interstate Child Custody Issues

What is the law governing jurisdiction over an initial custody determination?

When a child custody case involves individuals in different states, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) determines jurisdiction.

To determine which state has proper jurisdiction to make an initial determination of child custody, the UCCJEA proceeds in the following order of priority:

  • The state which is currently the “home state” of the child, or was the child’s home state within six months immediately before the commencement of child custody proceedings if the child is absent from the state, but a parent or person acting as a parent continues to live in the state;
  • If no state has jurisdiction under #1, then jurisdiction is proper where the child and at least one parent have a significant connection with the state (other than mere presence), and substantial evidence concerning the custody determination is available in the state;
  • If no state has jurisdiction under #1 or #2, jurisdiction is proper in any state having an appropriate connection with the child.

A state having jurisdiction under #1 or #2 may decline to exercise its jurisdiction, and transfer it to another state if it is more convenient for the parties, or if one of the parties has engaged in misconduct necessitating a change.

“Home state” is defined as the “state in which a child lived with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least six consecutive months immediately before the commencement of a child-custody proceeding. In the case of a child less than six months of age, the term means the state in which the child lived from birth with any of the persons mentioned. A period of temporary absence of any of the mentioned persons is part of the period.”

Can jurisdiction change to another state?

Yes.  The law governing ongoing jurisdiction is as follows:

Once a state court has made a custody determination, that state keeps jurisdiction over all matters concerning that child, unless:

  • A court of the state with jurisdiction determines that the child or the child and a parent do not have a significant connection with the state, and evidence concerning the child’s custody determination is not available in the state;
  • A court of the state with jurisdiction, or any other state, determines that the child and both parents (or acting parents) do not reside in the state any longer.

Can a custody determination be modified?

Once a custody determination has been made, a court of another state does not have authority to modify the determination unless the state with jurisdiction determines that it does not have jurisdiction as noted above, or any state court determines that the child, parents, and any acting parents do not reside in the state that currently has jurisdiction.

Practice Areas

From the wide-ranging issues of divorce to the delicate nature of child support and child custody, McFarland Law, P.C. focuses on a variety of issues and cases dealing directly and indirectly with matters of family law.

Divorce

A Texas divorce involves both the division of the parties’ property and, if children are involved, child custody and child support.

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Child Custody

Child custody may be initially rendered in a Divorce or a Suit to Establish the Parent Child-Relationship, which is a custody case between unmarried parties.

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Child Support

A child support order may be initially rendered in a Divorce or a Suit to Establish the Parent-Child Relationship, which is a custody case between unmarried parties.

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Spousal Support

Spousal support may be awarded in cases where the parties have been married more than 10 years or a spouse has been convicted of or received deferred adjudication for a crime of family violence.

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Mediation

Mediation is a non-binding confidential settlement conference at which a neutral mediator is present to help you and your spouse reach a final settlement of your case.

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Grandparent Visitation

Grandparents have the right to file a lawsuit for visitation and managing conservatorship of a grandchild in certain circumstances OR if both parents consent to the grandparent filing a suit.

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Domestic Violence

The Texas Family Code has special provisions for relationships where domestic abuse has occurred or is alleged.

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Modifications

Parents have a right to have their prior custody and child support orders reviewed when there has been a change in circumstances.

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Paternity

Paternity of a child may be initially determined in a Divorce or a Suit to Establish the Parent-Child Relationship, which is a custody case between unmarried parties.

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Interstate Issues

When a child custody case involves individuals in different states, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) determines jurisdiction.

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Hague Convention

International child abduction and child custody is governed by the international treaty of the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction.

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Enforcement

If a parent has not complied with an order for possession and access to a child or an obligation to pay child support, and that parent does not have a valid defense, then the Court may fine or jail a non-compliant parent.

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