Will Moving Change Your Child Custody Agreement?

25 September 2020
 Categories: , Blog


Divorcing parents must come to an agreement when dealing with custody, visitation, and child support issues. Once done, the court is often extremely reluctant to disturb the plans and disrupt the child. Given that the health and happiness of the child is a high priority for the family court, changes to an existing custody plan are unwelcome except in certain circumstances. To find out how moving from one state to the other could affect your parenting agreement, read on. 

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)

The UCCJEA was enacted to protect children from parental kidnapping and to make custody, child support, and visitation issues the job of the original state. In the past, some parents were able to shop for judges that might be favorable to their wishes. In a nutshell, the UCCJEA places the responsibility of enforcing and altering child custody issues on the state that issued them in the first place. If you move to another state and want to make a change, that has to happen in the state which holds the original orders—at least until you establish residency.

Establishing Residency

The UCCJEA does allow the parents to move and establish residency. As long as the child has been residing in the state for at least six months, there is a possibility that the new state will take on the responsibility of dealing with parenting agreements and other minor-aged child issues. That does not mean a new state will automatically take over the jurisdiction of the case. The old state of residency has to relinquish jurisdiction and the new state has to agree to take on the jurisdiction. In most cases, the parent who is attempting to establish court jurisdiction must show that it would be better for the child if the new state (or the old state, depending on what you want) changes the jurisdiction.

Emergency and Temporary Orders

In some cases, other states have the power to act in a limited manner in emergency situations. Some of these situations involve accidents, deaths, incarceration, incapacity, and more. For example, if both parents are killed in a car accident, the judge in almost any state has the power to provide a grandparent with temporary custody of the child using an emergency order. Cases involving state-to-state custody issues are complicated and you will need to speak to a divorce or family law attorney before you make a move. You can lose custody by taking action without the court's permission. To find out more, speak to a lawyer.