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Understanding how courts decide interstate custody arrangements

Las Vegas parents may be interested in some information on how interstate child custody issues are dealt with. When multiple states are involved in a dispute, determining the proper court where the issue should be heard requires that court to meet certain requirements.

The U.S. Constitution contains a clause, known as the Full Faith and Credit Clause, which says that courts must enforce and respect judgments from other states. Regardless of this mandate, courts did not enforce out-of-state custody agreements with any consistency in the past. Since most states have adopted a version of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, however, courts now follow the standards set by the law.

The Act says that a court can only make a judgment on an interstate custody arrangement if one of a few requirements is met. If the state is either the home state of the child involved or the child has significant in-state connections, the court may decide the case. When a child has entered the state for safety reasons, this also gives a court jurisdiction over the agreement. Lastly, if no other state can meet any of the three conditions, the court may issue a decision regarding custody.

In cases where the child has been brought to the state illegally in order to petition a court there for custody modification, the court will deny custody to that parent. Only one state may issue a valid custody ruling, which is generally the first state to make a decision in the case. For those who are seeking a court's assistance with a child custody issue or modification after divorce, an attorney may be able to help. The attorney may be able to petition the proper court for a hearing or negotiate a custody modification with the child's other parent.

Source: Findlaw, "Interstate Custody Arrangements", September 04, 2014

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