Divorce and child custody matters can become exponentially more complicated if the parents reside in different states. Varying factors such as distance and time can play a role in determining your visitation schedule and what is best for the child or children involved. Here, the family law and divorce attorneys at Rodier Family Law discuss the process of petitioning for custody or visitation when the parents reside in different states. 

Establish an Interstate Custody Agreement

Custody cases can easily become complex when multiple state jurisdictions are involved. However, every state has the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act put in place to provide uniformity in determining jurisdiction for custody cases when the parents reside in different states. One aspect of this Act is to determine the child’s home state for purposes of litigation by examining factors including: how long they have resided in that state, their significant connections such as those made through schooling or healthcare and the safety of the child by residing in that current state and more.  The UCCJEA is a complicated area of the law and requires experienced family law counsel who can vet the specific facts of each case within the context of the code in order to determine the proper course of action when interstate custodial issues arise.  The comments set forth herein with regard to the UCCJEA are general in nature. 

Differences and Changes in Custody Arrangements

Once an initial custody order has been issued the state issuing the order generally retains jurisdiction of the case unless both parents and the children no longer reside in that state. That state will continue to be the location or court in which issues pertaining to the children would be litigated thereafter. As the child ages, for example, changes in custody arrangements may take place and a modification of custody or visitation may be necessary.  Modification or enforcement issues would continue to be heard in the state that issued the first custody order unless the UCCJEA dictates otherwise.  

When to Enforce Your Visitation Rights

In regards to visitation rights, it is important to seek the help of legal counsel for the most effective child custody agreement. If you and your ex-spouse created a verbal custody agreement but did not go through a court to have it documented, there is usually less that can be legally done if your ex-spouse refuses to abide by your agreed-upon visitation rights. However, if you have an established court order that your ex-spouse refuses to follow, it is important to seek legal help to enforce the same. Be sure to document all occurrences, possibly through text or email if appropriate, in which your ex-spouse does not answer or denies your request. Furthermore, be sure to respond with requested make-up days or times for visitation to show that you are making efforts to reach a resolution. Evidence of the other parent refusing visitation rights may enable you to seek legal help to enforce the order in the original state or in the state in which you live, if different. Prior to or simultaneously with enforcing an out of state order you must file to enroll the out of state order. It is often helpful to contact an attorney in your home state and the state that issued the custody order so that they can work together. 

Discuss Your Options With a Divorce and Separation Attorney at Rodier Family Law

Going through a divorce is both financially and emotionally taxing, and with a child involved, the complexity of divorce and custody battles can skyrocket. When one parent lives out of state, the difficulty of petitioning the court for visitation rights and changes to custody can require additional steps. At Rodier Family Law, our dedicated team of divorce and child custody attorneys works to ensure that your rights are honored, and the court-ordered agreements that you and your ex-spouse have in place are mandated. If you are struggling with custody or visitation rights to your child over state lines, contact the Bel Air attorneys at Rodier Family Law today