What happens to my child custody case when I move to a different state?

Steve Harrelson, a family law lawyer Texarkana trusts, has the experience of practicing law in a border state area where the law of multiple states may play a role.  For instance, custody and visitation guidelines may be different in Arkansas vs. Louisiana, and child support calculations may be different in Texas vs. Arkansas.  So which state’s law will govern the custody rules in your case?  The answer lies in the uniform act adopted by all states titled the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdictional Enforcement Act (termed “UCCJEA” for short).

The UCCJEA will dictate where a case can initially be filed, and it also governs when a case can be transferred to a different state.  The cornerstone of the UCCJEA is the definition of the term “home state,” and how it applies in various situations.  A child’s home state is the last state where he or she has lived for the previous six months.  If the child is less than six months old, the home state is where the child was born.  For instance, if a child lived in Texas for 6 years, then moved to Louisiana for four months, and then moved to Arkansas for five months, Texas is still the child’s home state, although Arkansas could acquire that distinction if the child remains in Arkansas for another month.

What is the importance of the home state: Family Law Lawyer Texarkana

Contrary to popular belief, the home state does not dictate where a case will be heard.  Deep within the UCCJEA are rules for acquiring exclusive, continuing jurisdiction, and how a court can lose it.  Simply because a mother and her children move away from Texas, where the divorce was heard, and into Arkansas for six months does not mean Arkansas will hear any new issues regarding the children.  So long as the father remains in the previous jurisdiction – Texas in this case – Texas will continue to have exclusive, continuing jurisdiction.  Of course, there are exceptions to this act just like any other, such as emergency situations, etc., but it requires a thorough reading of the act and the reported cases to gain a full understanding of the UCCJEA.

As a family law lawyer Texarkana respects might attest, the UCCJEA does govern many interstate family law issues regarding child custody, but it is not the final say in every interstate family law issue.  For instance, another model uniform act governs child support (Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, or UIFSA).  Additionally, parents attempting to use the UCCJEA to their benefit in a fraudulent way can run afoul of the PKPA, or the Federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act.

For these reasons, it is imperative to hire a veteran litigator and experienced family lawyer who has been involved in interstate family disputes for years.


Thanks to Steve Harrelson and our friends and co-contributors from Harrelson Law Firm, P.A. for their added insight into the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdictional Enforcement Act in family law cases.

Posted on December 14, 2016 @ 7:11 pm

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