It can complicate things when a child’s parents live in different states or when one parent wants to move out of Kentucky — and wants to take the kid with them. An interstate child custody case can have many factors to consider: legal, emotional and practical.
Why jurisdiction matters
One matter sounds technical but can have significant implications for each parent’s ability to contest a child support dispute across state lines. Jurisdiction refers to a court’s power to decide a case. A court must have jurisdiction to hear your child custody case, or the judge’s decision will not be enforceable. Jurisdiction is determined based on where the child lives, based on the following factors (in order of preference):
- The child’s home state
- Whether the child has significant connections to the state, such as grandparents, doctors, friends and teachers
- The child is in the state for safety reasons, such as a danger of abuse or neglect if they had remained in their former state
If no state can meet one of these criteria, another state can claim jurisdiction.
Jurisdiction matters when the parents live far apart. The parent whose state gets jurisdiction gets to handle the custody matter at their local courthouse. The other parent will have to find a local attorney in the first parent’s state to help them and may have to travel there for hearings. Differences in each state’s custody laws could be a factor.
Your children’s best interests
In a child custody relocation dispute, the court will make the best interests of the children its top priority. Parents must present evidence that staying in their current state or moving to the new state (whichever the parent prefers) is best for the children. For example, moving could put the kids in a larger, more comfortable home and closer to their grandparents. On the other hand, it could also isolate them from their other parent, their friends and the high-quality school they are attending.
These cases typically come down to your family’s particular facts and circumstances. If negotiations fail, your family law attorney will put together the strongest possible case on your behalf.