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Interstate Child Custody Jurisdiction Questions Answered

by | Mar 20, 2018 | child custody and support, divorce lawyer long island ny, Family Law Attorney, Family Law Lawyer, News and Events

Due to our high cost of living, raising a family on Long Island in a two-income household is challenging enough, but trying to do it on one income can be a daunting task. This leads to many parents moving out of New York after their divorce in search of a better living situation for their family. Moving into and out of New York State can have consequences on your Child Custody proceeding.

Governing Law for Interstate Child Custody Jurisdiction

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Prior to 1997, the easy mobility of families created a complex system in which different states would have conflicting child custody arrangements. For example, a Connecticut court may make an initial determination regarding custody, granting the mother residential custody. Dad would then move out of state to New York and file a separate Child Custody Petition and the New York court would make its own decision. While technically speaking, the New York court would have been required to adhere to the Connecticut decision, sometimes this wouldn’t happen, and confusion would ensue.

To create a more unified system, in 1997 the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) was passed. Since 1997, 49 states (including New York) have adopted this legislation. It is this legislation that determines a state’s ability to hear your Child Custody case.

What is Interstate Child Custody Jurisdiction?

For a court to hear your Child Custody case, or any case for that matter, it must first have jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter of the case. It is well established in New York that Family Court and Supreme Court have concurrent jurisdiction over certain subject matter, including your Child Custody case. Notwithstanding, the state must also have jurisdiction over the parties so as to render a valid judgment. If the state does not have jurisdiction over the parties (here, both parents and the child(ren)), then any Judgment or Order entered may not be valid. As discussed above, there used to be challenges in determining which state had jurisdiction over a Child Custody case when a family has been very mobile. The UCCJEA set out to solve that problem.

How Does the UCCJEA Work?

According to the UCCJEA, a state has jurisdiction to make a child custody determination only if:

  • the state is the home state of the child on the date of commencement; or
  • was the home state of the child within 6 months prior to the commencement of the proceeding (this also requires that one parent/guardian remain in the home state).

It is important to note that the UCCJEA defines a child’s “home state” as the state in which a child has lived with a parent or guardian for at least 6 consecutive months immediately before the commencement of the proceeding. If the child is less than six months in age, the home state is that in which the child has lived from birth with either a parent or guardian.

It’s also important to realize that the UCCJEA grants exclusive, continuing jurisdiction to the court that makes a proper custody determination under its rules. This jurisdiction extends until the original court determines that neither the child nor the parent/guardian continue to reside in that state, or the child no longer has a significant connection with the state and substantial evidence relating to the child’s care, protection, training and personal relationships is no longer available in the state. So, if New York is the child’s home state and you bring a proper Child Custody Petition in the New York Courts, any modifications that you seek will need to be done in New York. A court of a different state cannot make or modify a custody determination while another state has exclusive and continuing jurisdiction, absent certain statutory exceptions.

Questions About Child Custody and Visitation on Long Island?

To learn more about what you need to know about Child Custody on Long Island, visit this page on Child Custody or contact us at 631-923-1910 for a complimentary consultation

Need Help With Child Custody on Long Island? Contact Us for a Free Consultation

As you can see, Child Custody cases can get very technical and require a familiarity with different rules and statutes. If you find yourself in the midst of, or contemplating, a Child Custody proceeding, it is important that you seek legal representation to adequately protect your interests. Should you have further questions or wish to seek legal representation, please contact our Long Island Divorce & Family Law firm at 631-629-2545 to set up your free consultation.

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Everett Roberts
Everett Roberts
14:30 18 Mar 20
Going through a divorce was very challenging and emotional. Searching for an attorney can be challenging as well when you consider everything that is at stake. The choice I made to work with Rob Hornberger was surely the best choice available. His professionalism, expertise, and understanding made him and the entire team perfectly suited to achieve the outcomes I desired. Rob was always available to answer my questions and give me advice and legal considerations that affected my situation. The support I received from his staff was exemplary as well. The staff was courteous, kind, and also very professional. Thank you so much Rob and team for a worry free experience.
Annemarie Cusumano
Annemarie Cusumano
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Being in family court especially when your children are on the line is extremely emotional and stressful but working with Robert and Christine put me at ease and made the process as pleasant as a situation like that can be. I have a now 3 year old daughter (who is the most important person in my life) and I've been working with them for over two years since my daughter was 7 months old, the case has been up and down and through it all Rob and Christine have never given up. My original case was due to a neglect charge. Cps is not easy to work with, but Rob and Christine were vigilant and I ended up getting my daughter back within 8 months and did not have to plead guilty to the neglect. Currently I am in family court to figure out a custody agreement. They are professional, empathetic, and patient. They have always explained everything thoroughly, informed me of all my options and advised me of what my best option would be. They always respond quickly when I contact them with questions or concerns and most importantly they fight for me in court and don't give up even when things get rough. Before hiring Rob and Christine I met with other attorneys who did not make me feel confident or comfortable at all about my case, so I am very grateful to have found Rob and Christine and to be represented by such great attorneys. I highly recommend them for any family court matters and will definitely continue to use them in the future if needed.
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