Modifying Child Custody If One Party Moved To Another Jurisdiction

divorce lawyer Daniel ExnerQuestion:

My ex-wife and I currently have a child custody agreement that was determined in North Carolina.

She now lives in Virginia and has filed with the courts there for a modification of parenting time.

Doesn’t North Carolina hold jurisdiction because that’s where our agreement is, where I currently live, and where our child lives half the time? Wouldn’t there have to be a change of venue hearing before a Virginia court can modify visitation orders from North Carolina?

Answer:

I can provide you with some general divorce help for men regarding the issue in your question, though for specific legal advice on divorce you should consult with a divorce lawyer in your jurisdiction because there are likely procedural deadlines that must be met, especially if your ex-wife already filed a motion.

North Carolina adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) in 1999. The purpose of the UCCJEA is to provide a uniform system of child custody and placement enforcement throughout American state courts.

State legislatures promulgated the UCCJEA to prevent parties from jumping between state courts in an attempt to compromise or avoid court orders from other states.

Under North Carolina law, the North Carolina court that makes a child custody determination has exclusive, continuing jurisdiction over that determination until it determines that (1) nether the child, the child’s parents, or anyone in a parent like relationship has significant connections with North Carolina; (2) the child or parents no longer reside in the state; or (3) the initial forum is no longer convenient.

A “child custody determination” means a judgment, decree, or other order of a court providing for the legal custody, physical custody, or visitation with respect to a child.

To determine “convenience,” the court looks at a statutory list of factors including the parties’ location, financial considerations, and the amount of time the child has been removed from the original jurisdiction.

In your case, the North Carolina court that ordered the original child custody agreements may still retain exclusive jurisdiction over the case provided you still live in and have a significant connection to North Carolina and the forum is not inconvenient.

Additionally, Virginia adopted the UCCJEA in 2001 and follows the same rules on exclusive and continuing jurisdiction. A Virginia court will not grant a hearing for modification unless it determines that (1) the child has lived in its jurisdiction for six months; and (2) the court with original jurisdiction either (a) released its jurisdiction because the parties no longer live in the state; or (b) admits that the original forum is no longer convenient.

Objections to jurisdiction usually must occur in the beginning of any action or are waived by the opposing party. Again, I recommend you seek immediate counsel from a family law attorney to resolve this matter.

Cordell & Cordell has men’s divorce lawyers located nationwide. To schedule an appointment with a divorce attorney, including Daniel Exner, a Staff Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, office, please contact Cordell & Cordell.

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One comment on “Modifying Child Custody If One Party Moved To Another Jurisdiction

    I used to live in illinois. I just recently moved to louisana for my husband work. My 14 year old daughter lives with her dad in illinois. He is trying to tell me that b4 she can come here to visit I have to take him back to court. I do not understand why because in my divorce papers it just says to let me know of my residents. I have and he was also given a notice. My daughter was ok with me moving too. I am supposed to get her two weeks out of the summer one in June and july. Please I really do not have the money for a lawyer I just need some legal advice

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