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New York Lawyer Dealing with Interstate Custody Issues

Difficult issues arise when one parent moves a child from one state to another state without the knowledge or consent of the other parent. Now there are two states involved with custody and visitation issues. Which state is the appropriate state to determine custody? Is the state that should handle this case where the child came from or where the child is now?

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)

There is a statute in the United States that deals with interstate custody issues. This is called the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). This statute is enforced in all 50 states. The UCCJEA provides a uniform statute that deals with all child custody issues involving more than one state. Child custody issues are usually dealt with in the state where both parents and the child lives. The UCCJEA applies to cases where there are more than one state involved with the custody issues.

Three Different Rules Under the UCCJEA

There are basically three rules under the UCCJEA: the home state test, the emergency jurisdiction test, and where these two rules don=t apply, the significant connection and evidence test.

The Six Month Rule

The UCCJEA provides Aexclusive [and] continuing jurisdiction@ regarding child custody cases in the courts of what is referred to as the Ahome state.@ The Ahome state@ is defined as the state where the child has lived with a parent for a continuous period of at least 6 months before the initiation of proceedings for custody. In cases where the child is not six months of age, the home state is the state where the child lived for the majority of their life. Visits and temporary absences from the home state do not nullify the home state rule.

Emergency Jurisdiction Rules

There is an exception to the six month home state rule. This is known as the emergency jurisdiction rule. In the event of domestic violence situations, a court other than the home state court can deal with custody issues under the emergency exception rule. This emergency jurisdiction ends when the danger that created the emergency comes to an end. Thereafter jurisdiction concerning custody issues returns to the home state (state where the child has resided with a parent for the past six months).

Significant Connection and Evidence Rule

In circumstances where a child hasn=t lived in any state for a period of at least six continuous months, a court in a state that has Asignificant connections@ with the child and the parents and there exists within that state Asubstantial evidence concerning the child=s care, protection, training and parental residency@ may exercise jurisdiction with regard to the issues of child custody.

Exclusive Jurisdiction Rule

After a court has made a child custody jurisdiction under the UCCJEA, the court maintains continuing jurisdiction to deal with custody and visitation issues.


The UCCJEA is an extremely complex rule. If you have an issue involving an interstate custody problem, you need to contact an experienced, knowledgeable, family law attorney to represent you.

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