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Child custody: What happens if parents live in different states?

New Jersey parents often have to resolve a lot of issues concerning their children when they decide they no longer want to remain married to each other. In all states, the court has the final say regarding child custody, visitation or support issues. However, complications can arise if parents reside in different states.

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act sets the standard regarding when a court must defer to a decision made by a judge in another state. All but two states have enacted the UCCJA. The basic tenets of this law allow a court to make a custody decision if the court in question is located in the child's home state.

In some cases, a court that is not located in the child's resident state can still hand down a ruling, such as in situations where a child has been placed in a particular state for safety reasons. A court may also have jurisdiction if a child has strong connections to the state where the court is located, such as close relatives, child care, doctors, teachers or others who play significant roles to the child's overall well-being and care. If a state with jurisdiction refuses to rule on a certain matter or if no state meets any of the requirements, then another court may have the requisite jurisdiction to make a decision. 

Interstate child custody arrangements can be quite complex. The good news is that a parent does not have to figure things out on his or her own. One of the services an experienced New Jersey family law attorney can provide is to help clarify state laws and determine the most viable option for resolving a legal problem in a particular situation.

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