How To Change Jurisdiction for Child Custody

Transferring Child Custody to Another State

Sometimes Parents that received prior custody orders in other states move to Texas because of job relocation, schooling and other reasons. The first thing they often try to do is transfer jurisdiction over their children from their former state to Texas.  They may also seek to modify those orders once they are in Texas, but child custody law differs from state to state. The other parent may also wish to prevent you from moving in the first place by filing an application for a temporary restraining order.

UCCJEA TEXAS

In this situation, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) can offer some relief.  UCCJEA is a federal legislation which ensures that states address relevant issues in a uniform manner. This act requires that one state be chosen as the minor’s home state based on qualifying criteria. The chosen state has primary jurisdiction over the child custody case. However, there are some states that have not adopted this legislation.

How Home State Jurisdiction is Awarded

According to the UCCJEA, home state jurisdiction is often awarded to the state where the child has resided for at least six months. However, this does not work in a situation where a child is less than 6 months old. So the alternative is giving the home state jurisdiction to the state where custody orders were issued by a court. For example, if you moved to Texas with your children after your divorce was finalized in Utah, you can only file to modify child custody if you have been living in Texas for 6 months.  Other factors considered when awarding a state jurisdiction include:

  • The state where the child was living before they were taken by a parent to another state
  • The state where the child developed relationships with people like teachers, relatives, classmates and more
  • The state where the child was abandoned
  • The state where the child is safe from threat of abuse or violence

There are cases where the other state does not challenge jurisdiction in a Texas child custody case. This means that the Texas court automatically get jurisdiction and can modify child custody.

Challenges to Modification

Even if you have been living in Texas for six months, the other parent can still challenge your efforts to modify jurisdiction if that parent lives in the original state. This can complicate the case to an extent where the courts from both states may have to work together, and decide which state will be better for the child’s well being.  The courts will only award jurisdiction to the state where the child’s best interests are likely to be catered for. So don’t expect the court to grant jurisdiction merely for child support purposes. However, if you want jurisdictions changed to Texas because that will allow the child to get specialized medical care or counseling, then you have a higher chance of winning.  You will still need the services of an experienced attorney who can review your case and guide you on how to go about it.

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