Let us say that when you and your spouse divorced, you lived in the same city and managed custody of your child under the terms of your parenting plan.
When a job change necessitated your move to another state, your child went with you because the court awarded you physical custody. Now your ex-spouse wants custody and threatens to go to court in his state to get it. Can he do that?
A statute applies
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act is a statute that applies in every state and the District of Columbia. The act sets forth standards a court must meet either in making a child custody determination or in deferring to an existing ruling from a court in another state. The statute has helped to solve issues created by kidnapping as well as disagreements between parents who live in separate states.
According to the Act, a state may only make a decision pertaining to child custody if it meets one of the following tests, noted in order of preference:
- The state in which the court has been asked to make a decision is the home state of the child, meaning that he or she has resided in the state for a period of at least six months.
- The child has important personal connections in the state, examples of which are grandparents, teachers or doctors.
- The child is in the state where the court has been asked to make a decision because he or she has been abandoned or is in danger of being neglected or abused.
- Either no other state can pass one of these tests, or a state that is able to has declined to make a decision pertaining to the custody of the child.
Understanding Missouri law
You can rely on legal guidance to assist in complex custody matters. However, a family law attorney will remind you that although the rules of the Act most certainly apply in the state of Missouri, decisions made by the court are always based on what is best for the child.