Interstate Child Custody for Divorced Parents

Navigating child custody issues can be challenging when parents reside in different states. Determining which state has jurisdiction over your child custody, visitation, and/or child support issue is critical. You don’t want to waste time and money trying to address legal matters in a state that doesn’t have jurisdiction over your case, because any ruling handed down typically wouldn’t be enforceable.

Where the child currently resides and for how long may also have bearing on your case. For example, if you and your child moved to Texas from another state and have resided in Texas for at least six months, there are steps you may be able to take to establish jurisdiction in Texas and resolve out-of-state child custody and child support issues here.

However, it’s important to continue abiding by any existing child custody and child support orders you registered in another state until you can establish jurisdiction in Texas and modify the existing orders. Since different states approach child custody and support issues differently, we highly recommend hiring a family law attorney with experience dealing with interstate custody laws.

If you live in the Dallas / Fort Worth metroplex or surrounding communities, an interstate custody lawyer at the Sisemore Law Firm would be happy to speak with you about your concerns. Contact us to learn more.

Why UCCJEA and UIFSA jurisdiction matters

Since different states handle custody and child support differently, the federal government passed legislation to make it easier for parents to address issues pertaining to child custody and child support when parents don’t live in the same state.

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) established rules to help parents figure out which state has jurisdiction and how to enforce custody orders when parents are dealing with child custody in different states. The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) helps facilitate the collection of child support across state lines and provides guidance on UIFSA jurisdiction.

Again, it is critical to determine which state has jurisdiction pertaining to matters of custody (physical custody, legal custody and visitation) and child support in Texas or another state. An experienced interstate custody lawyer is your best resource to help untangle the complexities of jurisdiction and plan for next steps.

You may also be wondering: Can you file emergency custody in a different state? Yes, the UCCJEA legislation also includes provisions to address emergency custody issues when you have an out of state custody agreement. If a child has been abandoned or is in danger, or the child’s sibling or parent is in danger of mistreatment or abuse, emergency custody arrangements can be pursued.

Guidelines pertaining to UCCJEA and UIFSA can be found in the Texas Family Code Chapter 152 (subchapters C and D) and Texas Family Code Chapter 159. An interstate child custody and child support attorney from the Sisemore Law Firm can explain how this federal legislation applies to your specific case.

Can I file for custody in a different state?

If you moved to Texas from a different state and have resided in the state for six months or more, you may be able to file for custody in Texas. In addition, if the child is now living in a different state, you may still be able to file for custody in Texas if you live here and the child resided in Texas within six months immediately prior to your filing for custody in Texas.

Even if neither of those two conditions apply, a family court in Texas may be able to have jurisdiction in your custody filing, as long as another state doesn’t have jurisdiction based on those same conditions and other specific facts. However, interstate child custody matters are usually complicated and complex, so it’s important to speak with a family law attorney about next steps.

Can a Texas court enforce my child support orders from another state?

One of the main purposes of the UIFSA was to make it easier for parents to collect support across state lines. If you move to Texas and have a child support order registered in a different state, the UIFSA allows you to register those orders in the state of Texas. By registering the orders here, you transfer the interstate child support jurisdiction to Texas for enforcement and modification purposes.

Keep in mind, the other parent will receive notice that you are attempting to register the child support orders in Texas, and they can object to the registration. According to the Texas Attorney General, the other party has 20 days to object, in which case, a hearing would be scheduled to determine if the registration will be allowed and also confirm what amount of child support (if any) is in arrears.

Don’t face your interstate child custody concerns alone

If you have questions about interstate child custody or how to enforce child support orders from a different state, the experienced and compassionate interstate child custody and child support lawyers at the Sisemore Law Firm are here to help. Our firm has been helping parents navigate the challenges of interstate custody and child support since 2007 and can provide the guidance you need.

To schedule a confidential case review with our founder attorney Justin Sisemore, you can contact the firm at (817) 336-4444 or connect with us online.