Currently, 48 states and the District of Columbia have enacted a version of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. Only Massachusetts and Vermont have refused to follow this trend. The UCCJEA harmonizes the child custody rules among the various states to facilitate relocation and moving between the states. Before the UCCJEA, a parent’s actions might comply in one state, but violate the rules of the state he or she was moving into. It was a complicated, legal nightmare that was solved when the states decided to harmonize their laws. This post will go over the UCCJEA and how it may help you obtain a move away order.
The UCCJEA creates the conditions under which a state court may decide a child custody order. This prevents parents from moving to new states to obtain more favorable child custody orders.
First, the Court must ascertain if the state is the child’s home state. For the child to establish a home state she or he must have lived in the state at least six months prior to the legal action being brought. Next, the Court will consider if the child has significant connections to the state. Generally this means that the child attends school, has friends and family present in the state. The more connections, the more likely the Court will assert jurisdiction over the matter.
The Court will also consider if the child and his or her parent fled to the state for safety reasons. If the parent submits evidence that she or he suffered abuse from the other parent and that they fled to escape the abuse, the Court will take that into consideration. Finally, no other state should be able to meet any of these tests.
If you are trying to relocate with your child then you may want to speak to a family law attorney. Most courts require that both parents consent to a child moving away or that the moving parent must submit strong evidence and arguments to support the move away order. Failure to obtain a child custody modification to account for the move could result in serious consequences by the Court. An attorney can help you prepare your arguments and paperwork so that you can focus on getting your family ready for the move.