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Jurisdiction When Parties from Different States Divorce


Divorce: it’s never easy.  There are so many issues that are complicated by financial constraints, time issues, and emotion.  One of the most challenging areas many couples face when they contemplate a split revolves around custody and visitation issues.  When one spouse winds up leaving the Sunshine State, things instantly become more complex than ever.  With parents living in two different states, how is jurisdiction over custody and visitation issues determined? The Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) addresses this issue, and an experienced Boca Raton divorce and family law attorney can help you to understand your rights moving forward.

No Shopping for a Favorable Jurisdiction 

If the Florida courts look to be contrary to a particular situation, it’s important to note that the UCCJEA does not permit one parent to move to another state with the sole intent of finding custody laws more to their liking.  Rather, rules related to jurisdiction are based on key factors.

Which State gets Jurisdiction? 

There are multiple issues that are considered as jurisdictional issues are weighed.  Central to the determination are these five factors:

  1. Home State:  The child’s home over the preceding six months will likely have jurisdiction.  In the event the child lived in multiple states, the court will consider where the child lived longest during that period and in the preceding months and years.
  2. Home Connection: The child’s connections in a particular state will weigh on the jurisdiction question.  Family, school, activities, care for the child, and similar concerns will be considered.
  3. More Appropriate Forum:  Sometimes there are other factors that make State A more suitable for jurisdiction than State B, and state B will decline jurisdiction.
  4. No Other State Jurisdiction:  In the event the spouse in another state declines to claim jurisdiction, it would fall to Florida to be the state of jurisdiction.
  5. Emergency Jurisdiction:  Sometimes there is evidence of child abandonment or abuse.  In such instances, temporary emergency jurisdiction may be given to a particular state in order to address safety issues.

When States Decline Jurisdiction 

It may seem strange for one state to decline jurisdiction and allow another state to secure it.  The truth is, there are some circumstances in which it does make sense:

  1. When a child has lived for a lengthy period of time in one state, even though the past six months have been in a new state;
  2. When parents agree that a particular state should have jurisdiction;
  3. When the safety of the child is a concern due to violence or neglect.

The Best Scenario 

Certainly, all courts in this country must strive for the best outcomes for children when handling divorce matters.  This gets tricky when multiple states and large distances will be separating former spouses.  At WiseLieberman, our Boca Raton divorce lawyers are committed to working diligently on behalf of you, our clients.  Schedule a confident consultation in our office today.



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