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How is custody handled when parents are in different states?

On Behalf of | Jul 15, 2022 | Child Custody & Parenting Time |

Child custody is a balancing act of finding the right division of parenting time, ways to communicate amicably between the parents, and attempting to create a successful parenting plan. However, this can become even more complicated if one parent lives in Washington and the other parent lives in another state.

Custody agreements when parents live in different states

Even if the situation did not originally begin this way, when one parent moves away to a state different from the child’s home state, they will still need to follow the original custody agreement. In the past, states did not work together to ensure that one custody agreement was followed. However, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, or UCCJEA, changed this, requiring states to work together to solve child custody situations.

What is established by the UCCJEA?

  • The UCCJEA establishes the conditions that must be met to determine which state has jurisdiction over child custody. These conditions, in order of importance, include:The child’s home state, where the child lived physically for at least 6 months before the custody issue, and where at least one parent still lives
  • The state where the child and one parent have deep connections, to family members, medical professionals or teachers, for example
  • A different state that might be appropriate if the home state or the state where the child has connections has decided to defer to that state
  • A different state if no state meets any of the three previous provisions

If there is a threat to a child’s wellbeing and, for example, the child has been taken from their home state due to that threat, the new state might issue emergency temporary custody orders. These orders will only be valid until the appropriate state has been determined and permanent child custody orders have been issued.