Crossing State Lines And Custody Agreements

In the not-so-distant past, parents could pick up and move to a new state when they wanted to change a custody agreement. However, the UCCJEA (Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act) has brought about changes in the way that happens. To find out more, read on.

Parental Kidnapping Issues

The UCCJEA means that parents cannot petition the court for custody changes in their new state except under certain conditions. Previously, parents could get a lawyer and ask their new state to make changes in the custody agreements from a different state and they were often successful. Now, however, no custody agreement may be altered for at least six months after the parents move across state lines. Then, the parent must get permission to alter the agreement from the original state to move forward. The old state must relinquish control to the new state.

The parent who wants to alter the agreement must also show proof that the child is benefitting from the move and the custody change for it to become legal. That means showing that the child will benefit from living in the new location. For example, if the child needs medical attention at a certain hospital, that might be seen as being for the benefit of the child.

When It's an Emergency

In rare cases, the UCCJEA provides emergency actions to protect a minor child. These cases often include catastrophic situations in which both parents die or are incapacitated. When a single parent is incarcerated, the UCCJEA emergency procedures also kick in. For instance, the grandparents of a minor child can be immediately granted temporary custody of a child when both parents are dead.

When You Move with Permission

In most cases, moving a certain distance away is covered in the divorce decree. You must get the permission of the judge and the other parent must agree to a move that takes the child far enough way that visitation will be affected. Be ready to demonstrate how the move is in the best interest of the child if you wish to do something like this. Some common reasons for moving for the best interest of the child include:

  • To be near other relatives. This can be compelling if the child currently lives far away from other family members.
  • To have a better standard of living. Parental income could increase with a move and that can enhance a child's life. It might also be a move to more a rural location that is cleaner and safer for the child.
  • For educational opportunities. The child might have special needs and require education at certain institutions.

If you or you (or the other parent) are considering a move, speak to your lawyer to find out what you need to do to make it legal.

Contact a child custody attorney, such as Kenneth J. Molnar, to learn more.