In this ever mobile society, our jobs, families, and friends stretch across the country and around the world. Sometimes it can be unclear where, and which judge, has the authority to make child custody, parenting time, and child support decisions. As a general rule, only one state (and country) at a time has authority to order, enforce, and/or modify child related orders. Sometimes parents may be living in two different states before ever initiating a paternity or divorce case, in other circumstances a parent, both parents, and/or child moves away from the original home state where a divorce or paternity matter originated.
The UCCJEA, or Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, governs the rules about which state, and judge, may make child related decisions. Cases involving multiple jurisdictions and disputes over jurisdiction (which state court can make decisions and Orders), often take a collaborated effort to work with judges in both jurisdictions to help determine the best place and best judge to make decisions in your case. A child’s home state is typically where a child last lived for 6 continuous months, and the home state of the child is where a case can originate. However, the act allows some exception to this rule. Once a home state jurisdiction is established, it can be changed when the child no longer lives there, and/or both parents have moved away.
Interstate child custody matters are very fact sensitive, and the courts will look at factors such as where the child lives most of the time, what type of community and educational ties the child has with each state, and other similar facts that show that the child is more closely tied to one state or the other. Interstate cases can become very complicated, especially if a child was taken to a state with a parent against the other parent’s permission or against a court order.
When the immediate need to settle questions of custody and parenting time are stalled while courts in different states sort out which state has the right to make those decisions, it can be extremely stressful and difficult to navigate the court proceedings. At Schmeltzer & Bostic, we believe that every case is unique because every family is unique with different circumstances and needs. If you have a child custody case with an interstate dimension, we help guide you through the often complex legal requirements of Michigan’s adoption of the UCCJEA to help determine where your case should be heard. Navigating the court system, especially when there are two (state) courts involved, multiple attorneys, and judges attempting to make the best decision as to where your case should be heard can be difficult and time consuming. We can help you work through the complex legal questions and coordinate with all the parties, attorneys, judges and jurisdictions involved in multi-state cases.