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How are interstate custody arrangements handled?

Following a divorce, various situations could result in post-divorce issues for Missouri parents. Whether it is a change of job, family illness or perhaps just to a way to welcome change of scenery, one spouse may move to another state. This could possibly complicate custody matters for both divorced parents.

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act statute was enacted in an effort to standardize procedures and laws concerning child custody arrangements that extend outside of one state. All states in the United States except Massachusetts and Vermont follow the UCCJEA.

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act allow a state court to make child custody arrangement decisions. To handle such cases, the state must first establish that it is the child's home state. This can be done in a few ways.

If the child has lived with a parent for six months before the pending arrangement decision, or if the child was residing in the state but was recently removed by the parent, the state is considered the child's home state.

The same is also applicable if the child has significant ties within the state. This can include, but is not limited to, schools, teachers, friends, doctors, grandparents and other relevant family members.

It must be proven that the people are important towards the child's care, protection and personal relationships.

If the child is in a state for his or her own personal protection, from abuse, fear of abuse, neglect or potential abandonment, the child's current state may handle the custody arrangements per the UCCJEA statute.

Keeping a child's best interest in mind is always the primary concern for child custody arrangement decisions. The UCCJEA helps bridge the gap between states to determine which state will handle the proceedings. Those dealing with child custody issues should understand their situation so proper steps could be taken to resolve these issues. Seeking legal guidance could help divorced parents become better knowledgeable about his or her post-divorce issues.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Interstate Custody Arrangements," Accessed April 14, 2015

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Joseph J. Porzenski
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