When couples with children divorce and live in different states, establishing custody and visitation becomes problematic. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) establishes jurisdiction and gives the court the power to make decisions in these interstate situations. Since Minnesota has adopted UCCJEA, divorcing couples with children should be aware of the act’s provisions.
UCCJEA limits child custody jurisdiction to one state, avoiding competing orders and providing enforcement provisions for child custody orders. Simply stated, custody and visitation issues follow the child. When filing for custody or visitation, you must do so in your child’s home state. UCCJEA defines
“home state” as where your child has lived for at least six months. If the child is less than six months old, the home state is where the child lived from birth.
There are exceptions to the rule. If the child or the child’s sibling or parent is at risk of being abused, a court in another state can get temporary emergency jurisdiction even if the child has not lived there for six months.
If you want to modify an existing custody or visitation order because of a change of circumstance, you must file a petition with the court that made the original order. Again, it doesn’t matter if your child has lived somewhere else for more than six months.
You can ask the judge to change the court order by submitting a written motion for a venue change. The judge’s decision is based on the following factors and anything else the court may find significant, such as:
- Where the child is currently living and the length of time they have spent there
- Where each involved party (parent) lives
- The involved parties’ financial situations
- The nature and location of the evidence the case requires, including child testimony and witnesses
When cases are started in two different states, the judges decide which state has jurisdiction. Usually, the judge from the child’s home state has the deciding vote.
Under UCCJEA, the prosecutor can use law enforcement officers to enforce the custody and visitation order or to locate or protect a child or other involved party.
Custody and visitation issues are complex and emotionally charged. The trustworthy family law attorneys at Hess & Jendro Law Office, P.A. work hard to protect your family’s best interests.