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Child custody jurisdiction when multiple states are involved

As we have discussed on this blog many times, family law issues can be complex. This can be especially true when matters cross state lines. When this happens, an individual in Louisiana needs to know how the law applies to them and how to protect their own rights, lest they be taken advantage of. Though multi-state involvement can affect many issues, one of the most important is child custody and visitation.

The first issue here is jurisdiction. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act lays out how a court obtains jurisdiction over a child so that it can issue orders regarding that child. There are essentially four ways that a court can obtain jurisdiction. First, a court can issue orders if the state in which the court is located is deemed the child's home state. A state is considered the child's home state if the child has lived with a parent there for six months or more.

The second way a court can obtain jurisdiction is if the child has significant connections to individuals in the court's state. These connections could relate to education, health care or family, but there should also be some evidence that the child has issues in this state as well. The third option for obtaining jurisdiction is if the child is in the court's state for safety reasons. Lastly, a court can issue orders regarding custody and visitation if no state can obtain jurisdiction under the first three options or if a court declined jurisdiction.

Why is jurisdiction important? If another state claims jurisdiction over your child custody matter, then you may be required to travel great distances to attend court hearings and make legal filings. This could hinder your ability to protect your legal rights. Likewise, different states may have different laws that could affect you negatively. Therefore, to protect yourself and your relationship with you child, you should be sure to understand any multi-state issues you may be facing.

Source: FindLaw, "Interstate Custody Arrangements," accessed on Sep. 2, 2016

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