Many parents who live in a different state from where their children reside worry that custody issues will become complicated. While implementing laws across states can have the potential to be extremely complex, this has been mitigated in child custody cases with the implementation of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJA).

The UCCJA is in place in all states with the exception of Massachusetts and Vermont. This means that in the majority of situations, the UCCJA will apply when navigating interstate custody issues.

Which state has legal authority on custody decisions?

If, for example, you are living in Rhode Island and your child is living in Connecticut, you may wonder which state has the authority to make child custody decisions. When the UCCJA is applied, the state in which the child is residing will have first preference in making child custody decisions. In this example, it is likely that Connecticut courts would make the ruling.

Alternatively, if a child has significant connections in another state, or the child is visiting another state for safety reasons, that state may have the authority to make a custody decision.

What happens if more than one state makes a custody ruling?

If more than one state makes a custody ruling regarding a child, the first ruling will be binding, and rulings from other states will not be recognized.

If you are trying to gain custody of your child and they are residing in another state, it is important that you make use of the UCCJA. Doing so will help you make more informed actions to get the result that is best for your child.