Determining child custody arrangements can often be a difficult matter for parents who lead their own lives but still want to spend as much time as possible with their children.
However, the difficulties of sorting out child custody arrangements can become even more difficult when parents live or wish to live in different states or countries. Many parents become confused or get into arguments over which state should hear the family’s child custody matter.
Fortunately, most states have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). This is a law that governs and helps courts determine jurisdiction, or the right of a particular state’s courts to hear a child custody case.
The law governing interstate child custody matters may seem complex to many Colorado families. That is why the Denver family law attorneys of Halligan LLC are here to help you understand your rights and options in interstate child custody matters. Contact us at (720) 571-0053 to schedule a confidential consultation.
Families in Different States Often Engage in Disputes Over Which Court Should Hear Their Child Custody Case
Interstate child custody disputes are often an extremely stressful time for families. Parents may fight over what state will hear their child custody dispute before they even get to the point of custody or parenting time arrangements. . Jurisdictional disputes in child custody matters can easily lead to hard feelings between parents or accusations of trying to rig the system to gain an unfair advantage in a child custody dispute. Fortunately, the UCCJEA helps to smooth out the process of determining where an interstate child custody matter should be heard.
Helping Families Establish Jurisdiction in Colorado
The provisions of the UCCJEA ensure that only one state has jurisdiction to enter or modify a child custody order, so multiple states do not issue conflicting custody orders. Because jurisdiction follows the child, not necessarily a parent, it prevents parents from engaging in “forum-shopping”, or filing a child custody matter in a state that gives them a competitive advantage or the other parent a competitive disadvantage in a custody battle.
Under the UCCJEA, original jurisdiction to make an initial custody determination is given to the child’s “home state”. The home state is the state or foreign country where the child lived with a parent or guardian for at least 6 months prior to the filing of the child custody case; if the child is less than six months old, the home state is the state or country of the child’s birth. The child’s home state can change to any state he or she moves to, so long as he or she has lived in the new state for at least six months prior to the filing of a custody matter.
A state other than a child’s home state can exercise jurisdiction under the UCCJEA if, under another state’s or foreign country’s laws, no other jurisdiction qualifies as the child’s “home state” or the child’s home state declined to exercise jurisdiction after concluding that another state or country was a more appropriate forum for the custody matter. In Colorado, the courts will only exercise jurisdiction under these circumstances if one parent has a significant connection (beyond mere presence) to Colorado.
Finally, courts can exercise emergency jurisdiction at any time under the UCCJEA to enter temporary orders necessary to protect a child’s safety and welfare.
Frequently Asked Questions about Interstate Child Custody Matters
If my family has a custody order from another state, can a Colorado court enforce or modify it?
Under the UCCJEA and constitutional principles, a Colorado court must enforce an existing custody order that was entered by another state’s courts. However, if you wish for the Colorado courts to modify an order that was entered by another state, you will need to establish that Colorado has jurisdiction under the UCCJEA to make a custody determination. If the Colorado courts determine that they lack jurisdiction under the UCCJEA to modify your out-of-state custody order, you will need to return to the state where the order was entered to seek modification. An interstate child custody lawyer can help you to understand what actions the Colorado courts can take with respect to your out-of-state custody order.
Should I register my out-of-state custody order in Colorado?
Yes. If your family is subject to an out-of-state child custody order and you move to Colorado, once you register the order in Colorado you can ask a court in Colorado to enforce that order. You can either register the order with your child’s other parent or you may do so on your own. A child custody attorney can help you correctly prepare the filing necessary to register your out-of-state custody order with the Colorado courts.
My child’s other parent has primary physical custody and has moved from Colorado with my child. What can I do?
If your child’s other parent has removed your child from Colorado without your permission or order of the court, you may be able to apply to the Colorado courts for relief. There are state and federal laws and international treaties that prohibit parents from relocating children without the knowledge and/or permission of the other parent or the courts (so-called “parental abduction”). If you seek relief in the Colorado courts, the courts will use the UCCJEA to determine whether they have jurisdiction to hear your case. An interstate child custody attorney can help you understand your rights and options if your child is relocated out of Colorado without your permission.
Contact Us Today for Help Resolving Your Custody Disputes
When your family is in the midst of a child custody dispute that spans state lines, you need experienced, knowledgeable legal representation on your side to fight for your and your children’s interests. Halligan LLC is here to help families across Colorado resolve their interstate child custody disputes.
Our track record of success speaks for itself; Attorney Gavin Halligan has been recognized for her work with a Client’s Choice Award and 10.0 rating from Avvo, along with multiple Top 40 Lawyers Under 40 awards. Contact Halligan LLC today to learn more about how we can help fight for your rights and the best interests of your children in your interstate custody dispute.
Contact us at (720) 571-0053 or by reaching out to us online to schedule a confidential consultation with our Denver interstate child custody lawyers today.