Can I Fight for Custody From Another State?

Can I Fight for Custody From Another State?

If you and your child’s other parent live in different states, you may be wondering how you can pursue custody or modify an existing custody arrangement.

In cases like this, it’s all about jurisdiction.

Jurisdiction refers to a court’s authority to make legal decisions regarding a child custody matter. For a court to have jurisdiction, the child must have lived in the state for a certain period of time or have other defined connections to the state.

Jurisdiction becomes especially relevant when parents live in different states. Determining which state has jurisdiction allows the proper court to hear the custody case.

Navigating custody disputes across state lines can be complicated. However, with some key information on jurisdiction, you can better understand your options for fighting for custody when you and your child’s other parents live in separate states.

How the Child’s “Home State” Impacts Interstate Custody Battles

When fighting for custody from another state, jurisdiction is critical. You want the case heard where you have the best chance to win, often your current home state. But what if your child has recently moved or split time between states?

Minnesota follows the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). This means a MN court has jurisdiction if MN was the child’s “home state” 6 months before filing.

However, even if your child no longer lives in MN, if you still reside here and have evidence related to caring for your child in MN, custody can be determined here based on your “significant connection” versus another state.

So, if you left MN but want to file for custody here to have home-field advantage, emphasize your MN connections. If your child is elsewhere now, but MN was the recent home state, highlight that.

The key when fighting interstate custody battles is leveraging home state versus significant connections to have your case heard where it is strongest. MN law provides options for jurisdiction.

How to File for Custody if You Live in a Different State

If you want to file for custody but live in a separate state from your child, the process will depend on whether or not there is already a custody order in place.

  • If there is an existing custody order – If the other parent already has a court order granting them custody, you will need to file a motion to modify the custody order in the court that issued the original order. This is the court that has proper jurisdiction over the case under the UCCJEA. Your family law attorney can help you request a change to the current custody arrangement and parenting time based on a substantial change in circumstances.
  • If there is no current order – If there is no current legal custody order, the case gets more complicated. Typically, you would need to file for an initial custody determination in the state that is currently the “home state” where the child resides. An attorney can help you properly file and serve this paperwork even from another state.

No matter your specific circumstances, an experienced custody lawyer can walk you through the proper steps to legally pursue more parenting time with your child from out of state.

What if There is Already a Custody Order in Place From Another State?

If another state has issued a valid child custody order, that state will typically have exclusive jurisdiction over modifications and enforcement as long as one parent still lives there.

For example, if a Minnesota court issued your current legal and physical custody order, the case would remain under Minnesota’s jurisdiction even if you and the child moved out of state. Your child’s other parent could file to modify the order in Minnesota, assuming they still live there.

There are limited exceptions where a state with a prior custody order may lose jurisdiction, such as if neither the child nor parents live there anymore. A divorce attorney can advise you on whether the order state has lost jurisdiction in your unique case.

How Can I Modify Custody if My Child Now Lives in a Different State?

If you already have a custody order from State A, but your child has now lived in State B for at least 6 months, State B may now be considered the child’s home state. This means you may be able to modify custody by filing in State B. However, the court in State B cannot modify the order until it determines State A no longer has jurisdiction.

An exception is if State A’s court determines State B would be a more convenient forum and relinquishes jurisdiction to State B. The court may consider factors like where evidence and witnesses are located.

While the UCCJEA prevents simultaneous proceedings in different states, it does allow for temporary emergency jurisdiction for things like protecting the child from abuse or neglect. An attorney can help determine whether the new home state has grounds to modify the existing order.

Work With a MN Child Custody Lawyer

Dealing with a custody battle is draining enough without the added stress of managing across state lines. Partnering with an experienced Minnesota child custody lawyer provides invaluable help. At Martine Law, our caring family law attorneys assist parents with all aspects of interstate custody and visitation.

We understand these are highly emotional cases regarding your most precious relationships. Our legal team will stand by you and fight to protect your rights – no matter where you call home. Contact us today to get started securing the best custody outcome for you and your child.

Author Bio

Xavier Martine

Xavier Martine is the Founder of Martine Law, a Minnesota criminal defense and family law firm. Serving clients in Minneapolis, MN, and surrounding areas, he is dedicated to representing clients in a wide range of criminal matters, including DWIs, drug charges, misdemeanors, domestic violence, and other criminal charges. He also represents clients in family law matters, including divorce, child support, and child custody.

Xavier received his Juris Doctor from the Mitchell Hamline School of Law and is a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named among the “Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorneys Under 40 in Minnesota” in 2021 by The National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys. He was also named the “Best DUI Lawyer in Minneapolis” award in 2023 by and a “Rising Star” in 2023 by SuperLawyers.

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