Whether you are initiating a child custody case or are engaged in an existing child custody arrangement that is shifting to the involvement of two states, it is critical to understand the Florida and National Standards governing interstate child custody. With these unique cases, it is important to have experienced representation by an Orlando Child Custody Attorney. We are knowledgeable of the specific laws governing interstate custody and can assist you in understanding and protecting your specific rights in this process.
Within all child custody actions between Florida and a foreign state, the governing body of law is the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act, or UCCJEA. The UCCJEA was drafted in 1997 and has been adopted by 49 states, Massachusetts being the final state who has yet to adopt this protocol. Although under the Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause, courts are required to give full faith and credit to validly executed foreign judgments, the UCCJEA took it a step further and provided a national protocol for child custody determinations and when states must defer to the rulings of other states to provide for a cohesive formulation that focuses on fairness and the best interest of the child.
The UCCJEA will generally be the overarching law in cases where parents live in different states, or a child was relocated from their home state. The Act does not cover any other forms of child issues such as child support, only the custody and visitation rights with the child. It is important to distinguish between initial petitions regarding interstate child custody and modifications of existing child custody orders. Therefore, when an issue regarding interstate custody arises, the court will first determine if a valid custody agreement exists within their own state or in a foreign state. If there is no existing child custody order, and action is considered an initial petition for child custody determination between parents of separate states. The court must then follow the steps to determine proper jurisdiction of the child.
The highest level of authority resides with the child’s home state. Home state is defined as the state in which the child has resided with a parent for 6 consecutive months immediately prior to filing the action and the child is present in the state or a parent is still present in the state. If no state can meet this 6 month threshold, the court will then look to the connection between a child, and the state to determine proper jurisdiction. This connection must be significant, entailing the education, social, familial, and health care resources the child has developed within the state. Finally, if a foreign state does meet the home state requirement but declines jurisdiction and names Florida as a more appropriate forum, Florida may make an initial child custody determination. After an initial custody order is made, that state retains exclusive and continuing jurisdiction over the case. Therefore, proving Florida has proper jurisdiction over your initial petition for a child custody order is crucial, as they will retain their jurisdiction continuously.
Interstate child custody can become a difficult battle to overcome and fully understand. Therefore, it is imperative you employ a knowledgeable Orlando Child Custody Attorney. They will be able to describe in detail the process before you and the necessary evidence and statutes to adhere by. Seek counsel that is going to provide you with prudent and aggressive representation for you and your child.
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