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Helton Law Firm, PLLC

Dealing with child custody across state lines

When Tennessee parents first get divorced, sharing their children may be easy especially if the parents still live near each other. However, a custody dispute can become more complicated if one of the parents moves to another state for work or a new relationship. To make these types of disputes less complicated, Tennessee and almost every other state has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.

Under this law, a state court can only make a decision about a custody case if at least one of three requirements is met. First, it may only make a decision if it is the child's home state. In order for a state to be the child's home state, the child must live there for at least six months before legal action can be brought. A state court can also make decisions about the custody case if the child has significant connections within the state, such as teachers, grandparents or doctors. Finally, a state court can also oversee a case if the child was moved to the state for safety reasons.

If a state does not meet any of these requirements, the court cannot make legal decisions in a child custody case. If more than one state meets the requirements, only one will be able to issue custody decisions.

A parent who wrongfully takes a child to another state could lose custody. In these child custody cases, a family law attorney may help the other parent seek immediate court action if a child is taken to another state without permission, especially if the other parent does not have primary custody. Depending on the situation, the parent may be able to request sole custody of the child, especially if there is evidence that the other parent put the child in danger by the relocation action.

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