When a child is born, more often than not the child’s parents reside in the same state. Circumstances change, however, and sometimes after a divorce or another life change, one parent may move to another state. Interstate custody arrangements can be complicated, and tensions may arise in trying to determine where the child should live and which state should have jurisdiction over the matter. In Texas, the primary consideration in any custody case is what is in the child’s best interest, but the parties involved in a custody dispute often disagree as to whether a move to another state will be beneficial for the child. If you are involved in a custody dispute where either you or your co-parent wishes to modify your custody arrangement and move to another state, it is essential to retain experienced family law counsel to help you protect your parental rights and the welfare of your child. The Dallas child custody lawyers of the McClure Law Group are mindful of how important a successful outcome is in a custody dispute, and will work tirelessly to help you seek an arrangement that is in your child’s best interest.Determining Which State Has Jurisdiction in an Initial Custody Matter
A parent may wish to move to another state due to a job offer, to be closer to family, or for other personal reasons. When the parents of a child do not live in the same state, the first step in establishing an appropriate custody arrangement is determining which state has jurisdiction over the matter. Most states, including Texas, have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). The UCCJEA sets forth the guidelines for determining what state may exercise jurisdiction over a custody dispute.
The UCCJEA provides that a Texas court only has jurisdiction over an initial custody determination if several elements are met. First, Texas must be the child’s home state at the time the custody action is filed, or in cases where only the parent resides in Texas, the child resided in Texas within the six months prior to the filing of the custody action. A home state is defined as the state where the child resided in the six months prior to the proceeding. It must also be shown that no other state has jurisdiction over the matter, or that a court of the child’s home state declined to exercise jurisdiction. Once it is clear that no other state is exercising jurisdiction over the dispute, it must be proven that the child and his or her parent have substantial contacts with Texas, and that significant evidence is available in Texas regarding the child’s care and rearing. A knowledgeable child custody lawyer can help you navigate the complex jurisdictional issues that can arise in cases of this nature.Continuing Jurisdiction and Modifications
Once it is established that Texas has jurisdiction under the UCCJEA, Texas courts have exclusive jurisdiction over an interstate custody matter. Exclusive jurisdiction will continue until it is determined that the neither the child nor his or her parents reside in Texas or have significant contacts with Texas. Similarly, in most cases a Texas court cannot change a custody order set forth by a court seated in another state, unless that court relinquishes jurisdiction, or it is determined either by a Texas court or a court in the state that has jurisdiction over the matter that neither the child nor his or her parents live in that state. The UCCJEA also contains provisions that allow for the enforcement of orders issued by other states.
The UCCJEA permits a court to exercise temporary emergency jurisdiction in certain circumstances as well. A Texas court will have emergency jurisdiction if the child is in Texas and has either been abandoned, or is being abused or threatened with abuse. If there is no other custody order in effect in another state, a temporary emergency order will remain in effect until the child’s home state issues an order. If no custody action is brought in the child’s home state, the temporary emergency order may become final. If a custody action has been filed in the child’s home state, the court issuing the temporary emergency order will set forth a time in which the parent seeking the order may obtain an order from a court in the home state.Meet with an Experienced Child Custody Attorney in the Dallas Area
Custody disputes are often emotionally charged, and interstate custody disputes can be particularly acrimonious due to the potential for one parent’s custodial rights being greatly reduced. The child custody lawyers of the McClure Law Group will aggressively pursue a custody arrangement that suits the needs of your child while protecting your parental rights. To schedule a meeting, contact us at 214.692.8200 or through our form online.