Portrait of John K Grubb

Texas Divorce and Prenuptial Agreement

5005 Riverway Drive, Suite 450 • Houston, Texas 77056

Phone: 713-877-8800 • Fax: 713-877-1229

Which State Governs in Interstate Child Custody Disputes?

In the past, a parent could (and often did) take his or her child across state lines and get a new child custody order granting that parent full child custody. What would follow would often be a lengthy and expensive legal battle over which child custody order was in effect, all while the child in the middle of the dispute bounced between parents and courts. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”) changed all this, as the UCCJEA created a standard set of rules that determines which state has initial jurisdiction over a child in a child custody dispute.

Home State Has First Priority

The state whose courts have original jurisdiction to create a child custody order is often the “home state” of the child, the state where the child has been living. If the child recently left the state (within the past six months), that state will continue to have jurisdiction provided that one of his or her parents continues to live in the state. If the child has been absent from the state for more than six months, that prior home state will not likely have jurisdiction over child custody.

What Happens When There is No Home State?

In the event that no state meets the category above, the state with original jurisdiction to make a child custody order will be the one with which the child and at least one parent have connections. The child and parent have to have substantial connections with the state, though, beyond mere presence. For instance, the state should be where witnesses and the child’s medical and school records are located.

Other circumstances may come into play when making the original child custody order. Misconduct on the part of one of the parents, for example, may end up in a different state’s having jurisdiction than what the guidelines above would ordinarily require.

Have you been involved in an interstate child custody dispute? How did you determine which state had jurisdiction?

John K. Grubb & Associates, P.C. – Houston divorce attorneys

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