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Determining Parental Rights In Interstate Custody Cases

When two parents live in different states, the state that has authority over that child is usually the state where the child lives. Therefore, if the child lives in Louisiana, only a judge in Louisiana can create or modify a custody order. This is part of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, which is recognized in 48 of 50 states.

In certain cases, priority may be given to a state where the child has significant connections. If a child has been moved into a state for his or her safety, that state may have the ability to enforce or create a child custody order. When two states can meet one of the above tests, the state to rule first will be considered to have issued a binding custody order.

Although a judge may not be able to create or modify an existing order from another state, it can enforce an order from another state. This is referred to as the Full Faith and Credit Clause, which is written into the Constitution. Before the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, judges would create new custody orders and create confusion because multiple custody orders would be in effect.

In the event of an interstate child custody case, a family law attorney may help a parent establish his or her custody rights. If a valid custody order already exists in one state, an attorney may be able to help enforce that order. Conversely, an attorney may also be able to help a parent have an order from a state without jurisdiction nullified.

Source: Findlaw, “Interstate Custody Arrangements“, September 07, 2014

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