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The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act

Child Custody Help from Dallas Attorneys

Before filing and fighting for child custody in Texas, it’s important to determine if the state actually has the power to handle your case. If your child has lived in multiple states, it’s possible that the jurisdiction may lie elsewhere. In these cases, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) is an invaluable resource to determine how you are meant to proceed.

What Is the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act?

The country is divided on how each state handles child custody decisions. This lack of uniformity presents an obstacle to parents who live in separate states and have a child who has resided in a number of states as well. The UCCJEA provides those facing this confusion with some general rules to establish which state has jurisdiction over the child custody case. It’s important to note that the UCCJEA:

  • Only applies to legal custody, physical custody, and visitation issues
  • Is used by every state except Massachusetts
  • Is necessary to determine jurisdiction in every custody case where a parent, guardian, or child lives in a state other than Texas
  • Makes it your duty to inform the court of the applicability of UCCJEA in your case by presenting the child’s addresses for the past five years, along with the names and current addresses of those the child lived with

Our attorneys can help you better understand the UCCJEA as it applies to your case.

How the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act Determines Jurisdiction

Regardless of the other states relevant to your case, there could be reason for to make the decision within a Texas court. The UCCJEA establishes that Texas courts have jurisdiction of custody cases if:

  • The child has lived in Texas with a parental figure for at least six months before the case was filed
  • The child is under six months old and has resided in Texas with a parental figure since birth
  • The child does not currently live in Texas, but did live there within the six months preceding the case filing, and a parental figure still lives in Texas

While these are the only grounds for jurisdiction in custodial decisions, Texas maintains the ability to intervene in emergency situations. Texas courts may exercise power if the child is in Texas and has been abandoned, or if they or someone close to them is threatened with abuse. This emergency exercise of jurisdiction lasts until a child custody case can be started in the appropriate state.

Contact Mathur Law Offices, P.C. for further help understanding which court has the jurisdiction to hear your child custody case.

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