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What Is an Interstate Child Custody Agreement?

Child custody agreements encompass a wide range of financial situations, living arrangements, and specific needs. In situations where a child’s divorced parents live in separate states, a court may use the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act to determine the child’s home state and fashion an agreement that works in the best interest of the child.

Interstate Custody Considerations

If two parents do not live in the same state, disputes can arise around child custody and visitation. Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), most states follow similar standards regarding how to handle these situations. The only states that have not adopted these standards are Vermont and Massachusetts.

The UCCJEA outlines a number of rules for determining custody agreements across state lines. To determine which state’s laws apply to the custody agreement, the UCCJEA takes the following factors into consideration.

  • The child’s home state, or where the child has lived for the past six consecutive months
  • Any significant connections that exist between each state, the child, and his or her parents
  • Whether the child needs to live in a certain state to protect his or her safety
  • Whether either state meets any of the above criteria

In most cases, the state that issued the initial custody agreement for the child will continue to have jurisdiction over the agreement unless the court decides otherwise. The power of jurisdiction will then transfer to the state that meets the UCCJEA requirements.

Creating Interstate Custody Schedules

After deciding to move to another state and beginning the correct processes to modify the existing custody agreement, the parents must create an interstate custody schedule that meets the best interests of the child. The goal of the court is to keep both parents in the child’s life, and meeting this goal requires creating a visitation schedule that is age-appropriate and financially realistic.

Since most states require a visitation schedule as part of a custody agreement, parents who reside in two different states will need to create this plan. Hiring an Indianapolis divorce attorney can help parents craft a plan that meets the needs of their child while reaching an agreement that works for both parties.

Can a Parent Move a Child to Another State?

A child custody agreement will outline the requirements necessary for a parent to move a child to another state, or even just to take the child out of his or her home state temporarily. For example, a parent may need to inform his or her former spouse of the travel plans, or file a petition to modify the custody agreement if necessary.

If a parent travels across state lines without adhering to these requirements, he or she can face consequences from the court — which may include modification of the custody agreement or a potential revocation of custody. Wrongfully moving a child to another state may even lead to criminal kidnapping charges and the loss of custody rights. Before a parent decides to move to another state, he or she should speak to a divorce attorney and inform the court of his or her future plans.

Confused About Interstate Custody Agreements?

If you and your former spouse reside in separate states and you need assistance with your custody agreement, contact an Indianapolis child custody attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will help you understand the intricacies of interstate custody agreements, identify your rights throughout the process, and advocate for your best interests during mediation and in the courtroom. If you have not done so already, contact your lawyer to discuss your custody agreement.