Three Criteria That Give Your State Jurisdiction Over A Child

If you are having issues with your child custody arrangement, you can't just run to any court and hope for legal redress. In fact, even your home state doesn't automatically have jurisdiction over your child. Here are the three main circumstances in which your state may be considered as your child's home state:

Your State Is the Child's Home State

Just because you are a resident of one state doesn't make the same state your child's home state; your child is different from you. Therefore, you need to prove that the state is also your child's home state, which is the case if:

  • The child has been residing with you in that state for at least six months before the commencement of the case
  • The child was living in that state but has been removed from the state by the other parent

This means, for example, that your state doesn't have jurisdiction of your child if they have been living with the other parent (in another state) since the separation.

The Child Has Significant Connections With Your State

The more connections your child has with your resident state, the more it is likely that the state will be considered your child's home state. For example, your state may be your child's home state if the child attends school there, has relatives (that they usually visit) in the state, and seeks medical care in that state. This may be the case, for example, if the child has lived all their life in your state and is now attending boarding school within the same state and only goes to another state during vacations.

The Child Has Found a Safe Haven in Your State

This case applies if the child has escaped danger in another state and has found refuge in your state. In such a case, it might not even matter whether the child has significant connections with the state or how long they have been in the state. Consider an example where your child has been living in a neighboring state with the other parent but then escapes to your home (in a different state) because the other parent is abusing them. In such a case, your state may be considered the child's home state even after a couple of weeks of stay.

There are numerous benefits to having your child custody case handled in your state. For example, it can save you lots of travel and related expenses. Consult a child custody lawyer for help if this is what you want for your child custody case.