How to Move a Custody Hearing to Another State

By John Cromwell

While family law is normally defined by each state's law, the rules regarding child custody hearings are mostly uniform among the states. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act has been approved by 49 states. The sole holdout is Massachusetts. As a result, the process for moving a custody hearing to another state by establishing jurisdiction elsewhere is generally similar from state to state -- assuming you want to move the initial custody hearing to another state and no court has made any custody determination.

Step 1

Determine which court has initial jurisdiction. A state has initial jurisdiction over a custody case if it is the child's home state when the first proceeding commenced. A state may also claim jurisdiction if it was the home state of the child within the six months immediately prior to the custody proceeding and one parent still lives in the state.

Step 2

Check to make sure there are no other related custody proceedings going on in any other state. If there is another ongoing child custody hearing, no other state’s court is permitted to act.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Step 3

Assess whether emergency circumstances exist. A court can obtain temporary jurisdiction over a child custody case if the child currently lives in that state. To qualify as emergency circumstances, the child must have been abandoned or in danger of being mistreated or abused. A court may also claim temporary jurisdiction if the child’s parents or siblings are threatened with mistreatment or abuse.

Step 4

Review whether the current state is an inconvenient forum. Determine where the child and parents live in relationship to the state that currently has jurisdiction and check to see if any related litigation, such as a divorce proceeding, is currently taking place in the state. Consider the distance between the current state and the proposed venue and the financial circumstances of both parties. Finally, evaluate both states' familiarity with the case and its facts.

Step 5

Consider whether a party used unjustifiable conduct to ensure the state currently presiding over the hearing gained jurisdiction. An example of unjustifiable conduct would be a parent abducting their child to another state and living there for a year. The abduction would generally disqualify that state from having jurisdiction, despite the fact the child lived there for a year. If the parent took the child to another state to flee an abusive parent, that would not be considered unjustifiable conduct.

Step 6

File a motion with the original court to terminate its jurisdiction. For a court that currently has jurisdiction over a child custody case to surrender it, you must show in your petition that the current state is inconvenient or the current jurisdiction was obtained by unjustifiable conduct.

Step 7

Secure an order from the current court that has jurisdiction stating it declines jurisdiction. Be sure to get a certified copy from the court's clerk.

Step 8

Determine if the new court where you want the hearing to take place has jurisdiction to hear the custody case. To qualify as an appropriate state for jurisdiction, the child and at least one parent must have a significant connection to the state. A significant connection requires something more than the child being physically present in the state; if the child has relatives in the state and has spent prolonged periods there, the child may have a significant connection to the state. The new state must also have substantial evidence available to it regarding the child’s care, protection and training. This is important because the court deciding custody must have easy access to evidence regarding the child's upbringing to make a good decision.

Step 9

File a petition with the new court to determine custody. The petition should state why the court has jurisdiction to hear the case and state the court with original jurisdiction declined to hear the case. You should also include a copy of the order from the prior court with the petition.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Can One Parent Take a Child Out of State Prior to Divorce Filing?
 

References

Related articles

How to Get a Divorce Out of State

If your marriage is headed for divorce, filing in another state might offer some advantages. The laws might allow finalization of your divorce more quickly than your current jurisdiction. You might want to move because your marriage has ended, and you don’t want to wait to relocate until it is officially over. The divorce process in most states is very similar, but some practical considerations apply.

How to Get Sole Custody When Your Ex Is an Alcoholic

Keeping a child out of harm's way is a parent's No. 1 priority. In cases of shared custody, the addictive behavior of one parent, including alcoholism, could be deemed detrimental enough to the child to award sole custody to the other parent. Further, while all states determine divorce and custody issues according to their own set of laws, the best interests of the child are paramount in custody and visitation decisions.

How to Divorce in California & Leave the State With Children

A divorce represents an opportunity for spouses to move on. Often, this results in relocation to another town or state. However, if the couple has minor children that will be affected by the move, California courts are tasked with balancing the rights of parents to live where they desire against the welfare of the children in making custody determinations.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

Laws for Divorced Parents With Children in Alabama

Creating parenting arrangements that support the welfare of minor children is an important part of the divorce process ...

How to Apply for Sole Custody in Baltimore, Maryland

In some cases, sole legal custody or sole physical custody is in the best interests of a child. For a parent wishing to ...

How to Get Legal Guardianship of a Child While a Parent Is in Jail

When a parent is arrested, a child's life is quickly thrown into disarray. If no one volunteers to be the child's ...

Custody Extradition Laws

Divorcing parents often fight over custody, and sometimes the custody disputes get so heated that one parent runs to ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED