Living in different states can make co-parenting arrangements and visitation schedules difficult for unmarried or divorced parents. Even if a custodial parent moves out of Utah after the court has established a parenting time and visitation schedule, it’s important to understand that most states will comply with the orders of the issuing state.
How Interstate Custody Decisions Are Made
Whether a child and custodial parent are moving into or outside of the state, the Utah Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act determines how the family court will interact with other courts and enforce custody and visitation orders. Most states have a similar legislation. To determine what state has jurisdiction to make decisions about a custody case, these tests are used.Test 1: The child’s home state
The child’s home state generally makes custody decisions. To be considered the home state, the child must live in the state, with a parent, for at least six months before the other parent seeks legal action. Even if one parent leaves the state with the child, if they meet the six-month residence requirement, the home state requirement is met.Test 2: Significant connections
The court will determine if the child has significant connections with others in the state including grandparents, educators, and healthcare providers. The court may also consider personal relationships, such as friends, and take into account relationships that impact the child’s training, protection, and day-to-day care.Test 3: Child safety
The court looks at whether the child was removed from one state due to abandonment, abuse, or neglect. They will also consider whether returning the child to the original state of residence will place them at risk for further abuse or neglect.
A state court cannot issue a binding decision about child custody without meeting the above three tests or, if they decline to assert jurisdiction.
How to Get an Interstate Custody Agreement
It’s important to understand that only one state court can issue a child custody decision. In situations where no court meets the requirements, the first state to issue a custody decision may be considered the binding decision. Any parent who unlawfully removes a child from one state or relocates them to another state to manipulate the home state requirement could be denied custody.
Contact a Utah family law attorney at the office of Spencer & Jensen PLLC. for more information and to get help with your interstate child custody agreement.