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My Ex and I Live in Different States. How Will the Court Decide Child Custody?

 Posted on May 03, 2023 in Child Custody


DuPage County Family Law AttorneyThe Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) was enacted by the United States government in 1997. It has been adopted by all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The purpose of the law is to regulate interstate child custody disputes, providing a uniform set of rules that are applied in custody cases that involve parents living in different states. The law ensures that the best interest of the child doctrine if always prioritized.

Determining Jurisdiction

There are a number of scenarios that can arise in child custody (referred to as the allocation of parental responsibilities in Illinois) cases – either when parents go to court for the original order or later on if one or both parents are seeking a modification to the current order – where parents live in different states. Since each state sets its own specific child custody laws, parents living in different states could be problematic in trying to determine which state’s laws should apply.

To avoid this issue, the UCCJEA establishes a system for determining which state has jurisdiction based on a number of factors, including the child's home state, where the child has significant connections, and where the child has been living for the past six months.

Under the UCCJEA, the child's home state is generally the state where the child has lived with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least six consecutive months before the start of the custody petition was filed. If the child is less than six months old, the home state is the state where the child has lived since birth. If the child has not lived in any state for at least six months, then the state with significant connections to the child and the child's family, such as where grandparents, aunts, or uncles reside, may have jurisdiction.

Once jurisdiction is determined, the UCCJEA requires that the court in that state give full faith and credit to the custody order of another state. This means that if one parent has already obtained a custody order in another state, the court in the new state must honor that order and enforce it. Additionally, if one parent has violated a custody order from another state, the UCCJEA allows the court in the state where the violation occurred to enforce the order and impose penalties on the offending parent.

The UCCJEA also provides a mechanism for courts in different states to communicate with each other in order to resolve disputes. If a parent files a custody case in one state and the other parent contests jurisdiction, the UCCJEA allows the courts in both states to communicate with each other to determine which state has jurisdiction. This helps to prevent situations where parents engage in “forum shopping” by filing multiple custody cases in different states in an attempt to obtain a favorable outcome.

Contact a DuPage County Family Law Attorney for Legal Assitance

If you are having custody issues with your co-parent, contact a skilled Wheaton, IL family lawyer from Hensley Sendek Law. Call 630-358-9029 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.




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