t is not uncommon that a child custody issue will arise where the parents live in different states. The first question that potential clients usually ask is, “where should I file my child custody or support petition if the other parent lives out of state?” or “where should I look for a lawyer if two states are involved in a custody dispute?”
To understand the possible answer to these questions, we must go to the law. Every state in the country except for Massachusetts has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), which dictates where a child custody petition is properly brought.
The UCCJEA sets forth which court is the proper place for an initial custody determination. Under the UCCJEA, a court may make an initial custody determination if it is the “home state” of the child.
In its most simplified definition, the “home state” of the child is defined as the state where the child has lived for the last six months. The UCCJEA also provides for establishing the proper state in cases where the six-month rule cannot be applied.
The UCCJEA is far more complex than just applying the six-month rule in order to determine where an initial custody petition should be brought. Your situation could be one in which it would make sense to file a petition in a state that is not the “home state” of the child. Your situation could also be in one which the UCCJEA does not even apply.
Call a lawyer if you’d like help in determining how to make the first step in working out your custody issue.