Is it possible for a court in a state in which you do not live to assert jurisdiction over your child custody dispute? The answer is, it depends. Once upon a time this was a legal tactic employed by vindictive parents involved in a nasty child custody dispute. One parent would "shop" around to obtain a favorable judgment. Luckily, most states have passed the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). This post will review the intricacies of interstate child custody disputes and how it may affect you.
The UCCJEA mostly removes this "forum shopping" but not entirely. For example, you could be required to present yourself to the court in order to proffer arguments against the court asserting jurisdiction. But it is a powerful bar to this activity.
The UCCJEA curbs this behavior by imposing a series of tests that the court must pass in order to assert jurisdiction. These tests are designed to prevent forum shopping, but they rely on the court respecting and obeying their provisions. A lawyer can help ensure that the court remembers its obligation to obey the tests to prevent potential abusive behavior.
If you are engaged in a child custody dispute, especially if it crosses state borders, you may want to sit down with an attorney. Child custody disputes are high-stakes legal interactions which can impact your and your child's future for years to come. A lawyer can ensure that you present the most effective legal strategy possible. You don't want to risk your child's visitation schedule or well-being by attempting to litigate this on your own. A lawyer can help.