During a divorce or separation, child custody is often among some of the most contentious issues that a couple can face throughout the process. Any topic has the potential of becoming an issue in a divorce, but child-related issues are especially subject to disagreement. When parents do not live in the same state, things can become even more complicated. Many parents move away after a divorce or separation, sometimes to a different state, even when they have children. Before you are able to begin a custody case, you will first need to make sure that you file the case in the correct state. A knowledgeable Illinois family law attorney will help you determine which state has jurisdiction over your case.
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)
When it comes to things like parenting time and decision-making responsibilities, each state has its own laws regarding the way those issues are handled. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) is a law that was enacted by 49 states and various U.S. territories to determine how the jurisdiction would be decided in custody cases that involved parents living in a different state from their child. In general, the state that is considered to be the child’s “home state” is the one with jurisdiction over the custody case.
Can Your Child’s Case Be Heard in Illinois?
As a parent living in Illinois, you are likely wondering whether or not your case can be heard in Illinois, or if it must be heard by the state in which your ex lives. The UCCJEA states that there are four different elements that are used to determine which state the custody case should be filed in. These elements are, in order of importance:
- The child’s home state: The home state is the first and most important factor used when determining where a child custody case is to be heard. If there has never been a custody order issued in any state for the child, the home state is determined by the state where the child and at least one parent have lived for at least six months prior to the commencement of the custody proceeding. In some cases, a child may not have lived in one state for at least six months and would be determined to not have a home state.
- Significant connections to the child: If a child does not have a home state or the child’s home state does not want to take jurisdiction, then it will be determined which state the child has significant connections to. To establish a significant connection between a state and the child, the child must have physical ties to the state, such as a parent, other relatives, doctors, or teachers. This is mainly to ensure that the state has enough evidence to go off of if the case goes to trial.
- Emergency jurisdiction: In some cases, a parent may be able to ask another court to relinquish or decline jurisdiction in cases involving abuse of the child or their siblings. This would allow the state that the child was currently in to issue emergency custody orders, even if there are orders already commencing in a different state. The emergency order would last until the permanent orders were put into place. However, if no other orders have been commenced, the emergency order would become permanent after the child has lived in the state for at least six months.
- Vacuum jurisdiction: In rare cases, a child may not have a home state, significant connections in any state, or a case for emergency purposes. If this is the case, the UCCJEA allows another court or jurisdiction to take the case.
Our DuPage County Interstate Child Custody Attorney Can Help
Living in a different state than your child can make things more difficult, but it is not impossible to form or modify a custody agreement in different states. At Botti Marinaccio, LTD, we have experience handling various types of child custody cases, including ones that cross state lines. Our team of Western Springs, IL interstate child custody lawyers is here and happy to help you sort out your custody disagreements in a way that benefits you and your child. To schedule a consultation, call our office today at 630-575-8585.