In today’s mobile society, it’s increasingly common for parents to ask questions about transferring jurisdiction over their kids from one state to another. These questions generally come up because prior custody decrees or orders were established in a different state, and the parent wants to modify those orders now that the kids and/or parent have moved to Texas. If you’re a parent in a similar situation, how do you accomplish that goal?
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act
Fortunately, there’s a piece of legislation to help answer this question. The UCCJEA (Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act) is a federal law that ensures all states address the relevant issues in a uniform manner. But there’s still the challenge of determining which state is empowered to enforce rights and duties regarding your kids. How do you establish your children’s home state jurisdiction?
Generally, home state jurisdiction is awarded to the state in which:
- The child has resided for six months or more (unless of course the child is less than six months old) OR
- The state in which the custody decree or orders were rendered
Let’s say you recently moved to Texas with your kids after having a divorce finalized in California, for example. If your kids have been in Texas for less than six months, then the state of Texas probably doesn’t yet have the power to modify the original California decree or order. But if you’ve been living in Texas for more than six months, you’ve got a good chance of getting that jurisdiction switched to your new home state.
What factors can complicate your efforts to modify jurisdiction?
Well, if one parent lives in the original state and the other has moved the kids to Texas, the case may turn into a jurisdictional “jump ball.” Ultimately, the courts of both states have to confer and decide which state is better for the kids’ well-being. If you’re trying to switch the jurisdiction over a simple issue such as child support, the conferring states may say, “Oh, it’s only a money thing,” and the original state will end up retaining jurisdiction. But if your child has been getting specialized medical care or counseling in Texas, then the courts may agree that the switch is necessary.
For legal counsel to help you do what’s best for your family, contact Evans Family Law Group in Austin today.
Evans Family Law Group can help you navigate this tricky terrain. Contact our office so we can counsel you on your jurisdiction issues and options.