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Understanding the law surrounding interstate custody disputes

Connecticut parents interested in information about custody and visitation issues may wish to know more about how interstate custody issues are handled. These disputes usually fall under one law that has been adopted by most of the country's jurisdictions.

In the late 1990s, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act was drafted and began to be adopted by the states. Nearly all states have since passed a version of this uniform act, covering some important topics with regard to the relocation of a custodial parent. The act contains rules to assist with determining what state has jurisdiction over custody disputes involving multiple jurisdictions. It also allows for uniform enforcement of visitation rights and child custody orders across the states.

Determining jurisdiction under the UCCJEA is a major part of the act. Under the law, only one state or country has jurisdiction over custody issues at any time. It lays out the requirements for a state court to have jurisdiction before issuing the initial custody order. Usually, this is the state in which the child has lived for at least six months before the initial order is sought. This is an important deadline for parents wishing to keep the legal action in their home state. The act also directs courts to work together to determine jurisdiction when they learn of pending custody actions in other states. There are also provisions that allow a state court to issue emergency orders in certain situations, such as when the child's safety is in danger.

Understanding the law surrounding a child custody dispute, particularly one involving more than one state, can be difficult without an attorney. The attorney may be able to represent a parent in court when fighting for custody and visitation rights.

Source: Connecticut General Assembly, "Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act," March 16, 2015

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