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Can another state's court change my custody order?

When two parents split up and one moves out of state, a custody agreement may face serious difficulty. Many parents worry that since different states maintain different laws about divorce and child custody, it may be possible for a parent without primary or sole custody to relocate to another state and then compel a judge to issue him or her an order to modify the custody agreement. This a very reasonable fear, but thankfully, the law has already provided a solution for it.

Except for Massachusetts, every state in the union abides by an interstate agreement called the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. While there are some exceptions, this law generally places the authority to make and maintain custody agreements in the hands of the child's home state.

A state becomes a child's home state if the child lives there for at least six months before any legal action is sought. A state may also serve as the home state if a child lived in a state before the legal action, but a parent relocated him or her. Child may also reside in a certain state because of safety concerns to establish home-state status, or a state can hold individuals who have some personal connection with the child. In order for a state to serve as the home state of child, at least one of these conditions must be met.

If you still have concerns about the other parent of your child using another state's court against you, be sure to consult with an experienced attorney. Proper legal guidance can help you protect against extreme parental actions and keep your child safe and secure.

Source: Findlaw, "Interstate Custody Arrangements," accessed Aug. 04, 2017

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