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Can my ex alter our custody order through an out-of-state court?

After parents split up, their lives may drift from each other considerably, even if they continue to share some custody or visitation privileges. In many instances, parents are no longer living in the same state. In some instances, a parent may attempt to go to a court in a new state and petition to the court to alter a custody arrangement.

In many instances, this action will simply be denied. Courts in almost every state abide by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) which sets out uniform standards courts observe when making child custody decisions. The act also lays out guidelines that indicate when a court should defer to another court's order from another state. Currently, only the states of Vermont and Massachusetts decline to recognize the UCCJEA.

In order for a court to issue a new custody order, it has to first meet a number of qualifications based on the state the court presides over and the child in question. If the court cannot meet any of these qualifications, the order is not recognized under the UCCJEA. If the order does meet qualifications under the UCCJEA, then you may have to defend the original order's enforcement.

If you have concerns about your spouse attempting to override your custody order with an order from an out-of-state court, be sure that you have adequate legal counsel and guidance. An experienced attorney can help you understand all of the issues at stake in your circumstances, while assisting you in building a strategy to protect your rights as a parent and those of the child you love.

Source: Findlaw, "Interstate Custody Arrangements," accessed Sep. 28, 2017

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