How To Determine Which State Has Jurisdiction


My wife recently moved from Iowa to Kansas with our kids. I have also moved around quite a bit but have remained in Iowa.

I need to file for custody but am having difficulty determining where my jurisdiction falls.


I do not practice law in your state. Therefore, I cannot inform you as to the specific laws of that state and can only provide you with general tips on divorce and family law.

Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”) a state has proper jurisdiction to make an initial determination of child custody if it is the “home state” of the child (where the child has resided for six months or more) or if it was the child’s home state within six months immediately before the child custody proceedings as long as a parent continues to live in that state.

Illinois divorce attorney Christina Milien
Illinois divorce attorney Christina Milien

As long as you haven’t left Iowa, Iowa has jurisdiction.  Your issue, however, is going to be having your ex-wife served since she is no longer in Iowa, but you do need to act as quickly as possible because once they have been in their current state for six months, an court in that state would have jurisdiction.

However, in the event she beats you filing, you could ask the court in your state to dismiss the matter for lack of jurisdiction.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Illinois divorce lawyer Christina Milien, contact Cordell & Cordell

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Shawn Garrison is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell & Cordell UK. He has written countless pieces dealing with the unique child custody and divorce issues that men and fathers face. Through his work on,, and, Mr. Garrison has become an authority on the complexities of the legal experience and was a content creator for the YouTube series “Dad’s Divorce Live” and additional videos on both the Dad’s Divorce and Cordell & Cordell YouTube channels. Mr. Garrison has managed the sites of these customers, and fostered the creation of several of their features, including the Cordell & Cordell attorney and office pages, the Dad’s Divorce Newsletter, and the Cordell & Cordell newsletter.

One comment on “How To Determine Which State Has Jurisdiction

    Have a friend who has been served with divorce/custody papers from his wife who resides in Oklahoma so it was filed in Oklahoma. He resides in Illinois. Is there a lawyer in Illinois who can represent his case for him considering its in Oklahoma? A lawyer who can contest the custody for him?

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