Thursday, March 11, 2010

Parents Living in Different States

1. What happens when a couple has a child and they both live in different states?

When parents who live in two different states and they want to make their custody arrangement into a formal court order, or when they need to resolve a dispute about custody or visitation parenting time, then it may be very difficult to determine which state court should handle the case. In short, the critical question is which state should have jurisdiction. The travel costs for the parties could be a critical factor.

In custody cases jurisdiction depends mostly upon the following:

* Do any court orders already exist?
* Where does the child presently live?
* Where has the child lived before this time?

2. What does the term home state mean?

If no court has ever entered an order to determine custody or visitation, then the general rule is that a court in the state where the child (and one parent or caregiver) has lived for the last six months is the state court that should resolve the case. If the child is less than six months old, then the state where the child was born and has lived since birth has jurisdiction. This is called the child's home state.

3. What state should have jurisdiction over custody and parenting issues if the child has no home state?

If the child has not lived in one state since birth or for the last six months, then he has no home state. When there is no home state, then the courts consider which state is most able to resolve the case. The courts analyze the significant connections between the child and the state. For example, the state that is home to the child's relatives, teachers, or doctors, who may be potential witnesses if a trial is necessary, has significant connections.

When there is no home state, a state's court can choose to assume jurisdiction if:

Information provided by:
Theodore Sliwinski, Esq.

To read this article in its entirety, please click here.

For more information, contact the Family Law Offices of Renee M. Marcelle at (415) 456-4444, or online at


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