Determining jurisdiction in interstate custody cases

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in child custody on Wednesday, May 16, 2018.

One of the more common reason married couples in Jackson County may give as to why they are choosing to divorce is that they have grown apart. If such perceived distance caused issues in their marriage, one can only imagine how much more exacerbated those may become when the actual distance between them increases. In many cases, that distance may span across state lines. When it comes (and a couple has child custody issues that need to be resolved), a whole new level of complexity can be introduced to a case.

Custody guidelines and regulations differ from state-to-state, which is why some may see it as an advantage to move to one where they believe they have the best chance of securing a favorable ruling. This then prompts the question of which state would have jurisdiction in a child custody case. To better regulate issues related to interstate custody cases, 48 states (Missouri included) have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. It confers the right the rule on a custody case to the court that meets one of the three following criteria:

  • The court is located in the children’s home state
  • The court is located in a state where people with whom the children have significant connections reside
  • The court is located in a state the children have relocated to for their own safety

These criteria are mentioned in this particular order because it represents the order of preference court officials follow. So how, then, is home state determined? Each state has created its own standard. Per Missouri state law, it is considered a child’s home state if he or she has been residing within in for a minimum of six consecutive months prior to custody proceedings commencing.

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