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Child custody jurisdiction and relocating in a different state

Texas parents may wonder what happens to a child custody arrangement once one parent moves to another state. Prior to the enactment of The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, judges in different states sometimes ruled on custody issues that may have already been decided in the child's home state, which led to confusion.

Under the auspices of the act, the child's home state maintains exclusive jurisdiction over the child's custody. The home state is the state where the child has resided for six months or more and where the child has significant connections, such as grandparents, doctors or teachers. If a point is reached where there is no longer a connection to the state where the original agreement was made or if the parents do not live there, then the state may cease to hold jurisdiction. If one parent continues to live in the original state where the court issued the child custody agreement, the state will retain jurisdiction.

The act enforces custody agreements and prevents one parent from taking a child away from their home state without permission. It also prevents a parent from challenging a custody arrangement in another state unless the original state forgoes jurisdiction. A family law judge in another state may consider a change in custody if it can be shown that the child was removed from the previous state due to abuse or neglect. Even so, the court may refuse to hear a case in some instances.

While this basic explanation of interstate child custody rules may be beneficial to some parents, each case can become complicated and disputed, depending on the circumstances. Parents who are involved in contentious child custody proceedings might consider retaining the services of a family law attorney. That attorney could help a client pursue the best interests of the child in court.

Source: Findlaw, "Interstate Custody Arrangements", September 02, 2014

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