Divorces or separations after a long-term relationship often cause people to seek other big changes in their lives in an attempt to start over with a fresh slate. In some cases, this means that one spouse decides to move out of state, either to distance him or herself from his or her former partner or to move closer to friends and family as a support system while rebuilding his or her life. Either way, if there are children involved, this can make custody issues more complicated.
One commonly misunderstood aspect of child custody orders is what happens when one parent moves out of state. In the vast majority of cases, this has little effect on which court has jurisdiction over the custody arrangement. Texas has a statute called the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, which outlines how the courts have to handle a custody arrangement that originated in another state.
There are several factors the courts look at when deciding which court has jurisdiction over the custody order. The first is the child’s home state. The state that the child has been residing in for at least six months before any legal action was brought is considered the child’s home state. This ensures that a parent cannot just move and take a child with him or her to a different state that has more favorable child custody guidelines. Another factor is where the child’s connections are. This means that the courts look at where the child has been going to school, where the child’s pediatrician is located and where the child’s family and friends are.
Understanding court jurisdiction and what to do if your custody arrangement becomes an interstate one is easier when you get information from a knowledgeable source about what Texas law says and what your parental rights are.
Source: FindLaw, “Interstate Custody Arrangements,” accessed July 17, 2015