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Multi-State Child Custody Cases


All child custody cases are complex. Each case comes with deep emotions and its own set of unique challenges. Things are made all the more confusing if the child’s parents no longer live in the same state. Not only does the distance make things inherently more difficult, but a dispute can arise over where the child custody dispute should be heard. If you live in Central Florida, and are involved in a multi-state child custody dispute, it is imperative that you protect your parental rights by speaking to an experienced Orlando family law attorney immediately.

What is Jurisdiction?

A court can only hear a case if it has the jurisdiction to do so. In simple terms, Jurisdiction is the authority to render a legal judgment. For a court to have jurisdiction over a case, several criteria must be met. For example, the court must have jurisdiction over the subject matter. This makes sense, as you would not bring a divorce case before a Florida bankruptcy court. Courts must also have territorial jurisdiction. Once again this is common sense, as parents that both reside in Orlando would not bring their alimony dispute before a judge in Texas. However, determining jurisdiction can also be very complicated in some cases. This is an especially important issue in child custody cases where the parents live in separate states. In this situation, uniform law will be used to determine the appropriate forum.

Where Will Your Child Custody Case Be Heard?

Jurisdiction for multi-state child custody disputes is governed by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). The legislation has been adopted by every state in the union except for Massachusetts. It helps bring much needed clarity to multi-state child custody disputes. The overriding principle of the law is that all child custody cases are to be heard in the child’s home state. Under the law, the home state is defined as the state in which the child lived with his or her custodial parent for previous six months before the hearing began. If a child has been in one location for the previous six months, that is the appropriate state to hear the dispute. In cases where the child has moved within the last six months, courts will be empowered to select an appropriate home state by asking two questions:

  1. Where does the child have ‘significant connections’?
  2. Can either party provide ‘substantial evidence’ that suggest an appropriate home state for the child?

These two questions will be assessed in a totality of the circumstances manner. In other words, the court will look for a balanced solution.

Do You Need Family Law Assistance in Central Florida?

We can help. At the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A., our compassionate family law team has extensive experience protecting the rights of people like you. We will work tirelessly to help your family find a positive and collaborate solution to any dispute. Still, we will always work aggressively to protect your parental rights. If you are involved in multi-state child custody dispute, please contact our Orlando office today at 407-521-7171 to schedule your fully confidential case review.



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