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Wheaton, IL UCCJEA Child Custody Attorney

Warrenville UCCJEA interstate custody lawyer

DuPage County Lawyer for Interstate Custody Cases Involving Complex Jurisdiction

In Illinois, decisions regarding child custody and related issues can be complicated and contentious. Both parents are often emotionally invested in the outcome, and they may have strong differences of opinion regarding their children's best interests. If you, your child, or your child's other parent have recently lived outside of Illinois, you may face further complications in determining which state has jurisdiction to issue a child custody decision. These cases are handled according to the terms of the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA).

Trying to understand and navigate issues involving interstate child custody jurisdiction can be stressful and overwhelming without the assistance of an experienced attorney. If you encounter issues related to the UCCJEA in your case, Attorney Jessica Sendek of Hensley Sendek Law can help you manage them. She has practiced family law exclusively since 2007, giving her a breadth and depth of knowledge regarding the complexities of child custody cases.

What Issues Are Covered Under the UCCJEA?

The purpose of the UCCJEA is to clarify which state has jurisdiction to make an initial determination of child custody, as well as continued jurisdiction to handle proceedings and modifications related to child custody. The UCCJEA has been adopted by 49 U.S. states, including Illinois, as well as several U.S. territories. While many Illinois law statutes have moved away from the use of the term "child custody" in recent years, questions of jurisdiction regarding many child-related issues still fall under the terms of the UCCJEA, including cases in which a child has been removed from Illinois after living there for at least six months.

Can My Child Custody Case Be Handled in Illinois?

As you prepare for a child custody proceeding, it is important to determine whether Illinois has jurisdiction over the case. Under the UCCJEA, there are different criteria for jurisdiction depending on whether the matter at hand is the initial child custody determination or a subsequent proceeding or modification of the initial determination.

For an initial custody determination, such as in a divorce or legal separation or after a judgment of legal parentage, Illinois may have jurisdiction if one of the following is true:

  • Illinois is the child's home state, meaning that the child has lived with a parent in Illinois for at least six months before the child custody proceeding begins, or since birth if the child is less than six months old.
  • Illinois was previously the child's home state at a point within six months of the start of the proceeding, and one of the parents still lives in Illinois.
  • No other state can be considered the child's home state according to the above definition, and the child and a parent have a significant connection to Illinois through which evidence is available regarding the child's care and relationships.
  • No other state has jurisdiction based on being the child's home state or a state with which the child has a significant connection.
  • A state that would otherwise have jurisdiction chooses not to exercise it because it determines that the case would be more appropriately handled in Illinois.

If an initial custody determination is made under Illinois jurisdiction, Illinois also has exclusive jurisdiction for future child custody proceedings as long as the child or at least one of the parents still lives in Illinois and has a significant connection to Illinois, and there is still substantial, relevant evidence available in Illinois. If a child is removed from Illinois in violation of the initial custody determination, you will be able to pursue the return of the child in Illinois courts. However, if the initial determination was made in another state, it is usually only possible to pursue a new proceeding or modification in Illinois if that other state no longer has exclusive jurisdiction, or if there is an emergency related to the child's abandonment or mistreatment.

Contact a Naperville Interstate Child Custody Lawyer

We can help you demonstrate that Illinois has the proper jurisdiction to handle your child custody case, and we will also help you protect your rights and your children's best interests in your child custody proceeding. Contact us today at 630-358-9029 for a free consultation on your case in DuPage County, Cook County, Kane County, or Will County. We serve clients in Wheaton, Naperville, Winfield, West Chicago, Warrenville, Lisle, Lombard, Glen Ellyn, and the surrounding areas.

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