Child Custody Across State Lines

UCCJEABy Matt Allen


Child custody cases frequently involve multiple states due to a party moving post-divorce or even during the divorce process.

A common acronym is mentioned during any dispute involving child custody cases across state lines: UCCJEA.

UCCJEA stands for Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. It’s a set of uniform laws states have enacted that outlines the process of avoiding jurisdictional competition by the courts in matters of child custody and to promote cooperation with all the states and help enforce the court decrees of other states, according to the attorneys at the domestic litigation firm Cordell & Cordell.

Basically, the court that originally determined child custody would retain exclusive and continuing jurisdiction over any and all issues arising out the custody of the child.

Jennifer Paine, a Cordell & Cordell Michigan attorney, said the UCCJEA vests continuing, exclusive jurisdiction for child custody cases in the child’s “home state,” i.e. where the child has lived for six consecutive months prior to commencing the case (or the child’s entire life).

There are cases where the original state may no longer exercise jurisdiction though as part of the “home state” determination under the UCCJEA, said Cordell & Cordell attorney William Halaz.

One of the reasons would be if none of the parties still live in the original state. The original state would also lose jurisdiction if the court determines that neither the child, the child and one parent, nor the child and a person acting as a parent have a significant connection with the original state, and that substantial evidence is no longer available in the original state concerning the child’s care, protection, training, and personal relationships.

Fathers also wonder about paying child support if a child has been emancipated in one state and then moves to another state with a higher age of majority.

But the UCCJEA holds that if the child has already been emancipated in the original state in a court order, the new state may not “un-emancipate” the child, according to Halaz.

If the UCCJEA applies in your case, then the motioning parent may file an action in the children’s current state to request that the prior state’s court relinquish its control to the new state’s court, according to Paine.

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42 comments on “Child Custody Across State Lines

    Child custody
    My wife and I had a son here in NY state 18 months ago. We are going through some rough times and will probably not continue to stay together. I feel that if this happens, she is going to try to take our son and move to florida to live with her mother. Please tell me if she will legally get away with taking him from me and to another state. Thank you.

    If your son was born there and you are established by the courts that you are the legal father of the child, she cannot legally leave the state with him without your permission, it can be considered kidnapping. It would have to go to court if court agreements are not already set in place.

    Prevent Wife From Moving
    Almost every state is different in how it approaches parents who relocate with or without the children to a different state during the pendency of a dissolution of marriage. Generally speaking, unless there is an order from the Court or something else that would prevent relocation, then a party is free to move or relocate to where they want to.

    I usually advise my client that if they are fearful their spouse will move with the children or take them to another state without returning them, then they need to seek protection from the Court to attempt to prevent this from happening. Relocation is an issue that I believe is easier to deal with before it happens and not after it happens.

    You should seek the counsel of an attorney who is licensed in your state to get specific advice as to what your rights are and to protect your rights in this case.

    However, if there is an existing cause of action, judgment, or decree of record pertaining to the children’s residence or time-sharing and a parent removes the child without the written consent of the other parent or order of the court, then the other parent can file a motion for contempt and for the immediate return of the children to the jurisdiction to prevent a permanent relocation.

    To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, contact Cordell & Cordell:

    Jason Bowman is an attorney in the Louisville, Kentucky office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. He is licensed in the states of Kentucky and Texas. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business from the University of Louisville, and received his Juris Doctor from Texas Wesleyan University.

    Sharing Custody Across State Lines
    I have two children under the age of three. During my deployment in 2010, the mother of my children moved from Virginia to Florida without my consent. Now, a year later, she is refusing to allow me visitation. Do I petition the Virginia Courts or Florida Courts for joint custody and what is the likely-hood joint custody will be granted due to us living across state lines?

    State Line Issues
    Generally speaking, children become the jurisdiction of the state in which they reside given that they have met the residency requirements for that particular state. Depending upon how your agreement was written out and the facts of your specific case, you may have the ability to request the original state, Florida, take the jurisdiction by requesting the Virginia courts to relinquish their control over the case.

    It may beneficial for you to consult first with an attorney in Florida to see what grounds you may have, and then consult with an attorney in Virginia to get their guidance.

    my son is 3 with cancer.
    I am John C. Shelton J.r , a 22 year old father of a beautiful 3 year old little boy whom was diognosed with rhabdomyosarcoma in may of 2011 he was born august 17th 2008. he weighd 8 pounds 6 ounces. My ex-fiance and i have been split up for almost 2 years and she still fights with me constantly. The only reason she has full custody of our son (preston dakota redman) is because on august 17th 2008 i was informed i was not able to put my name on the birth cirtificate given prior circumstances with a husband she had previously but still legally binded too. She was married at 16 and never got the divorce.But to current times im living in daphne alabama and still am i yet to hear from the dna test place to make the first step towards getting any rights over my son. she hasnt spoken a word to me in over a month and when she does she speaks down to me and argues and fights. im not here to fight a war with her im here cause i care i am a young father who isnt going to leave there son to be a bastard. im a loving nurturing inspiring musician with a calm safe lifestyle and a heart of gold. im not perfect but who is. all i wasnt is to be poppa again. if you can help me please call me at 251 391 6479 or add me at

    thank you,
    john crawford shelton j.r

    what is the best route to take? and whats the best direction to start this journey?
    Hi, Im Nick from I-Falls MN, My 5 year old daughter currently lives in Baycity TX and I live in Minnesota. I currently have no rights established for my daughter. A year ago i was in the process of starting to establish them when my daughter also lived in minnesota, but behind my back my baby’s mom decided to move to texas and inform me the day before. well to make a long story short without all the drama, i want to try get atleast some % custody of my daughter. now with me living in a diffrent state, what is the best way to start this?

    My brother and his girlfriend had a baby that is 2.5 yrs old now. The child was born in Indiana and my brother lives in Ohio. My brother does not have any parental right over the child and is not able to see him as much as he would like to. He wants to obtain his parental rights because he has many problems with his son’s mother. What is the first step that he should take to get parental rights that will allow him to see his son? Also my brother’s name does not appear on his son’s birth certificate

    worried other half
    My boy friends 4children have temp custody with there aunt in law there mom was recently incarcerated and have long term time facing her he had a court date in fl and they advised him to get a aprtment and they will give him a background check to see if heds able to have his children live w him in wi .we spoke to Dcf and child welfare here in wi and fl but they are very vague w what he needs to do but he has a aprt and a good paying job also I will b also wanting to help but the workers at dcf told him if I live there if I have any kind of criminal record they will completely deny him his custody and placement of his children. I really need advice so we can do the right thing.
    Thank u

    My ex will not let my kids visit
    I have moved to Florida and my kids live with their mother in Missouri. She will not let the kids come visit me for many ridiculous reasons all because she and I do not get long. How can I enforce my custody? She has sole physical and we have joint legal (not that that matters at all to her).

    going across state lines.
    Can my husband take my son across state lines from north carolina if we have no custody agreement?

    I am a divorced father with sole custody of my two daughters gained at the request of my ex wife. I would like to relocate to Florida and retain the same custody agreement. Will there be any problems in doing so? My ex hasn’t seen the children in more than two years or called to check on them in more than a year.
    Please respond to:

    I want my daughters
    My daughters live in Ga. Post divorce I moved to NC and remarried and now have 2 boys. My ex says I can only get my daughter 2 weeks in the summer, holidays every other year because per the decree I can get them every other weekend. And I never get to file them on my taxes. What can I do to even this playing field

    I want My Daughters
    My daughters live in Ga. Post divorce I moved to NC and remarried and now have 2 boys. My ex says I can only get my daughter 2 weeks in the summer, holidays every other year because per the decree I can get them every other weekend. And I never get to file them on my taxes. What can I do to even this playing field?
    Please respond to:

    Unsure how to begin
    I live in Ohio with my 20 month old son, my 2.5 month old daughter, and their father. We are unmarried. There are no current custody orders. I am planning to leave him and I will need to stay with my mother in California. I plan to bring the children with me. How should I proceed? If I leave him and take the children with me, will I be charged with kidnapping? If I do move to california and bring my children, should I file custody paperwork in california or ohio? My hope is that he would follow us to california and work out a visitation schedule with me.

    How best to proceed?
    I am the father of a soon to be 5 year old who lives in Michigan. I live in Pennsylvania. My daughter’s mother makes absolutely no effort to keep me in the life of my daughter. She refuses to send pictures (after saying that she will), makes no effort to keep my daughter in contact with me (phone, skype, etc), nor will even allow the idea of bringing my daughter to see me in PA. Also, I pay my child support bi-weekly, and have no arrears.

    Basically it has come down to the fact of if I’m not the one putting in all the effort, I get nothing (except a substantial deduction from my paychecks.)

    I would like to know what kind of action I can take to make this arrangement more fair between her and I so that I don’t have to put in *ALL* the effort, time and money required to be part of my daughter’s life.

    Please respond to:

    I will admit that my situation is not as bad off as many here. I split up with my ex some time ago and together we have a beautiful daughter. we try our best to work things out between one another like adults, sometimes it works, others it doesn’t. A recent discussion with her has, however, shown me that it may be best for me to seek legal protection.

    Here’s the situation, I moved to a different state so that I could lay down the groundwork towards a better life for all of us. Our relationship ended up not working out and now disputes are arising as to the amount of visitation and whom to cover travel expenses. All I want is what’s fair to all of us. I have a bunch of different scenarios in mind but the one I’m toying with the most is dual custody splitting a year or two between the two of us where she gets our daughter for a year or two and then I get our daughter for a year or two. What is the possibility of pulling this off?

    In the state of Oregon… If a father wants to leave and move to another state and take his son with him is it kidnapping. The father mother are not married and no legal papers are pending no custody has been determined. Is he free to move with child and then establish papers.?

    Hi there my name is gricel alonso n I have A couple of questions , right now I don’t have money for a lawyer I just need a lil help , I would appreciate it so much

    I live in Texas for the pas 9 years , I have with my ex boyfriend 2 lil boys a 5 year old and a one year old he lives in new Mexico , we never got married but we where together for 6 years I’m guessing that’s comments law , he doesn’t help out with the boys n he also doesn’t pay child support, I want to move to Colorado cuz over there I have a better place for my kids to live and a better job, can I move befor e he does any child coustody would I get in trouble if I just move with them , I know he has rights but I’m the one supporting them , can I just move

    i am a mom,30, who moved across state lines. my x,52, resides in pa and I in nj. pa has jurisdiction because of the initial custody order. my x kicked me out of his home prior to filing custody papers about a year and a half ago. when we appeared, we mutually agreed on him maintaining primary physical custody due to my homelessness; under the statue that I share legal custody, am entitled to partial physical custody at mutually convenient dates and time as we may agree, and there is no support order in effect. also stated is that holidays take precedence over other periods of partial physical custody or visitation and that I am to provide all transportation to maintain the schedule of recommended contact. since court, I moved to back to nj and established myself. I have tried to remain in contact with my now 4 3/4 yr old daughter on a regular basis through the phone. I have wired him 50$ on many occasion for him to help her as well as have bought a few phone cards. he has refused to let me have my daughter out of his sight since weve been to court and has only let me visit her twice since my move back to nj almost a year ago. he will deny me contact with her due to her misbehavior or his unwillingness to entertain my phone contact parenting time. he believes he has sole say in how I spend my parenting time with our daughter, as well as when and where, refusing to let me visit with her without his supervision or letting me keep her for an overnight. I have involved children and youth services recently due to the concern of his drinking around our daughter, and his choice of babysitters/company. I am also requesting a more detailed parenting time arrangement. I ultimately seek primary physical custody, but am aware that pa will not willingly let her move across state lines, which has made this an uphill battle. how can I prove to the courts that it is ultimately in the best interest of the child to reside with me, instead of with him, without defaming him? we were never married and his actual paternity is questionable, a scenario not unknown to him, but he signed and acknowledgement of paternity after the death of the other possible father. can a dna test help me in any way? I don’t wish to discontinue the relationship with the man my daughter has known as her father, but I want what’s best for her. I eagerly await your response. thank you for your time.

    I have a 12 year old granddaughter that lived with her father in Puerto Rico for the past 7 years. Recently she came to California to visit her mother. She refused to get back on the plane wishing to stay with her mother and attend school in the States. As a commonwealth what can Puerto Rico do? Attorney’s keep sending letters over e-mail with threatening verbage. This even included a court date, but once again only over e-mail, nothing has been served. What can the father legally do to get his daughter back to Puerto Rico, especially when she does not want to go? At what point does the mother need to get concerned that legal action needs to be taken by her part? FYI, mother and daughter are moving to New Orleans in November.

    Hello…i live with my boyfriend and son in Ft Myers (Lee Cty) Florida, and my boyfriend has another daughter (14 yrs) from a previous relationship, my question is regarding child support. I want to know if we get married my income can be calculated and considered in that child support (currently i don;t work but im looking for a job). The child lives in North Carolina. Also, the child support determined should be under NC law, correct?

    With no custody order but an open custody case can I go get my son from his father in Mississippi and bring him back to Kentucky without being arrested for kidnapping ?

    I have a custody order for a immediate return of my child. the other parent has taken her to another state and will not make arrangements for me to get her. I filed a missing child case when she first removed her from Illinois and took her to Michigan. the court order her to return her and she not compiling with the order. what should I do?

    I’m a 29 yo female. I lived in NJ. I met a guy on the Internet, we fell in love. I moved to his hometown, state of MO 2 years later. It’s been 5 years living with him. I became pregnant, things. Relationship went down hill from there and it’s beyond help. I have a beautiful 10 mo old boy. He told me he wants us out. So I’m moving back to NJ with my family. Can I get in trouble? He knows where I’m going, I told him. Please advise. I would appreciate it greatly.

    My sister of 24 wants to take her boyfriend’s child of 10 down to North Carolina from Ohio with the father’s consent. Is there any documentation she needs to prepare other than a written consent form from both the mother and the father? Does she need become the child’s medical POA?

    Single father and My daughter is turning 7 months I have full custody mother never came to court in nj so I was awarded and mother lives in pa but now says she’s going to file in pa for visitation/custody. Can she do that? And how would it go since she has barely seen her since our child was born

    I have custody of my 4 and 7 year old in NM my ex wife lives in CO and wants custody of them. What do I need to do to prepare my self for the situation. I have had them for 3 years now

    I also have a joint custody and visitation petition against my daughter mother. I been in my daughter life there entire life and always supported them, now she want to take them to Florida to live chasing her mom and brother since they could by a large house with the child support.I am not taking a lawyer to the first court day. I can afford attorney but I will like to know what’s going on before I hire the lawyer. Am I making a mistake by not taking one?

    My son’s mother moved to Texas 2 1/2 years ago with my son against my wishes. My son was being residing with me since May of 2015. His mother petition Texas courts for custody. March 28, 2016 she was awarded joint primarily custody of our son. Texas stated he was a resident of Texas because he enter their land.

    My son, 14, is living with his mom and her hhusband. I’ve moved to il. 2 years ago. Hardest thing I’ve ever ddone my gets to come up here for the summers. 2 months a year. He doesn’t want to be there, he wants to be here with me. They don’t treat him well. Constant arguments and yelling. They don’t listen to him when he speaks, they constantly talk over him, interrupt him or just tell him to go away. What can we do?

    Hi my name is Shenna and I live in SC ,if I wanted to leave that state to go back home to MD with my kids can there dad charge me with kidnapping? We are not married but been together 8 years .I want out and take my kids with me ,can I do that? They was born in MD.And can I file for child support once I get there?8 years Together and 2 daughters and he treats me like dirt,I know he don’t love me but keeps the relationship cause he does not want to pay child support ,I think that’s why he moved us to SC cause the laws are different and I have no family here or support. I really need help ASAP .Heeeeeeellllllllllpppppppp

    Hi my name is Shenna and I live in SC ,if I wanted to leave that state to go back home to MD with my kids can there dad charge me with kidnapping? We are not married but been together 8 years .I want out and take my kids with me ,can I do that? They was born in MD.And can I file for child support once I get there?8 years Together and 2 daughters and he treats me like dirt,I know he don’t love me but keeps the relationship cause he does not want to pay child support ,I think that’s why he moved us to SC cause the laws are different and I have no family here or support. I really need help ASAP .Heeeeeeellllllllllpppppppp.Me and my daughters deserve better and this situation with me and their dad does not make their life good or easy

    This situation involves a friend of mine and my husbands. Our friend got married in California with the plan that both of them would move to North Carolina. They made the move with her 7 year old son. The new wife immediately became pregnant and after about 4 or 5 months moved her son and herself back to California. She wanted to be near her mother and simply hated not being in city. The long distance relationship has deteriorated to where it has no chance of success. Mother and father are completely opposed about where to live. They married with the understanding that she would move to NC to become a family. The mother made NC her legal residence, is insured here and has an NC license. He is clearly the more fit parent and there is much to back that up. She did kidnap her first child and leave the country so as not to share custody, forging paperwork and passport in the process. He intends to be in California for the birth but is interested if he has the right to remove the child to NC shortly after the birth, She does not intend to breast feed so that is not an issue. Tough one, huh? Anyone have suggestions?

    I moved from NY while I was preganant, I was visiting my mother in NY and had my daughter then left to go back home to PA. Now my ex (not proven to be the father) is taking me to NY courts and my daughter has never lived in there. Can he do this? Legally PA is her home state he would have to file in PA?

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