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How do courts handle interstate child custody disputes?

Increased relocation to Texas in recent years has had a number of local effects, from increasing activity in the real estate market to stimulating the economy. According to a recent article in Texas Lawyer, another effect of increased migration to Texas is that there are more cases dealing with the issue of how to handle situations where competing child custody orders are in place.

The primary law that deals with this issue is the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, called UCCJEA for short. Under this law, which has been adopted in some form by every state except Massachusetts, the state where the child has lived for six months or more at the time the suit is filed is generally deemed to have initial child custody jurisdiction. If there is no home state, other criteria determine which state has initial jurisdiction. 

The UCCJEA also lays out the criteria which determine which jurisdictions may make modifications to a child custody order, as well as the circumstances in which a state may have jurisdiction over a custody order removed. Generally speaking, the state which initially handled the custody order will be the state has jurisdiction to modify the order. That can change, though, in cases where the family has moved out of the state, for example.

In our next post, we’ll speak a bit more about interstate child custody disputes, the types of issues that can arise, and the importance of working with an experienced family law attorney in these cases.

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