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Custody and Visitation Across State Lines

Going through a divorce and dealing with custody and visitation can be challenging. Parents are navigating a new family dynamic, which includes learning to co-parent with their former spouse and learning to adapt to splitting time with their children. Those challenges become even more complex when a parent and child relocate to a different state.

Custody Determinations and Modification

When custody determinations are being made after a parent has already relocated--for the first time or during a modification of existing arrangements--jurisdiction is generally determined by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). The UCCJEA has been adopted by 49 states (including Illinois) and the District of Columbia, and is intended to standardize the way that states make and modify custody and visitation orders in order to reduce interstate conflict.

includes learning to co-parent with their former spouse and learning to adapt to splitting time with their children. Those challenges become even more complex when a parent and child relocate to a different state.

Custody Determinations and Modification

When custody determinations are being made after a parent has already relocated--for the first time or during a modification of existing arrangements--jurisdiction is generally determined by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). The UCCJEA has been adopted by 49 states (including Illinois) and the District of Columbia, and is intended to standardize the way that states make and modify custody and visitation orders in order to reduce interstate conflict.

Initial Custody and Visitation Orders

Under the UCCJEA, jurisdiction for an initial custody and visitation order should be based on one of four grounds.

  • Home State Jurisdiction: A court has jurisdiction over a custody and visitation matter if it is located in the home state of the child or if it is located in a state that was the child's home within six months of the proceedings and the child's parent lives in that state. In practice, if one parent moves out of state with a child, the state that the child left has jurisdiction for six months after the relocation so long as the other parent is still living in that state. This jurisdiction has priority over other grounds.
  • Significant Connection: If there is no home state or the home state declines jurisdiction, a different state is permitted to have jurisdiction over the proceedings if the child has sufficient ties to the state and if there is substantial evidence about the child available in the state. It is not a requirement that the child be physically present in the state.
  • More Appropriate Forum: A home state and significant connection state may decline jurisdiction because a different state would be a more appropriate forum, and therefore is the proper state for the proceeding.
  • Vacuum Jurisdiction: If there is no state with jurisdiction under the first three grounds, another state may exercise jurisdiction.

Relocation After an Order

After an order is in place, the custodial parent is generally required to get a court order to relocate with the child across state lines. If the parent is granted permission to relocate, the UCCJEA requires state courts to enforce custody and visitation orders from other state courts. Essentially, if parents have a custody and visitation order from state A, and the custodial parent moves to state B, state B is required to enforce the custody and visitation order from state A.

Modifications to Custody and Visitation Orders

Under the UCCJEA, a state that has issued a custody or visitation order has exclusive and continuing jurisdiction over the case. Parents who wish to modify an order, even if one of the parents or the child has relocated out of state, must go to the original court.

The original state loses jurisdiction in two circumstances:

  • The child or the child and a parent no longer have a significant connection with the state and there is no longer substantial evidence about the child available in that state; or
  • The child and the child's parents or persons acting as the child's parents no longer live in the state.

The original state may also decline jurisdiction on a modification of the grounds that the alternative state is a more convenient forum.

Contact Our Experienced Lawyers

Our skilled DuPage County family law attorneys at The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C. are available to help you with your child custody issues. Call 630-462-9500 to schedule an initial consultation with a qualified legal professional.

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1776 S. Naperville Road - Building B, Suite 202
Wheaton, IL 60189

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