My Child & I Moved Out of State Years Ago. Now My Ex Is Trying to Drag Me Back Into Court.

Relocation after divorce sets up a tug of war between parents when it becomes necessary to go back to court over custody or time sharing issues.  As we discussed in a previous post the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) establishes a presumption that the state that made the original custody decision can retain jurisdiction as long as the parent and child or at least one parent continues to reside in that state.  However, just because a state can retain jurisdiction does not necessarily mean that the state will retain jurisdiction.

The statute has a provision for the judges in the competing states to actually conduct a teleconference in which the two judges confer to determine which state should assume jurisdiction over the child custody hearing.  Often this teleconference simply takes place between the judges without counsel or parties present and the judges then issue a ruling establishing a record of the conference.  Some states, such as Florida, actually have a rule of procedure that attorneys shall be allowed to be present at these conferences.  I have been present during some of these teleconferences and it tends to be fairly underwhelming.  Nevertheless, if a party insisted on counsel being present, I do not believe that any judge I routinely appear in front of would be opposed to it.

Of particular import to a judge in making a decision whether to retain or to accept jurisdiction is often the concept of forum non conveniens.  That is a Latin term for "inconvenient forum."  The idea being that it is more convenient for the case to be heard in one state as opposed to the other because of witness and evidence availability.  For example, if a primary argument in a time sharing modification action is that the child has become a habitual truant and his grades are slipping, it would be inconvenient to hear the case in Kentucky if the child has been residing and going to school in Idaho for the past three years.  If this or a similar situation is present it is vital that you make sure your attorney is aware of it as soon as possible in order to be able to raise the argument to the court.  Beware, however, some judges tend to be extremely parochial and are hesitant or just outright refuse to relinquish jurisdiction regardless of the forum non conveniens argument.

As we previously discussed dealing with issues arising from the UCCJEA can be very intricate and it is necessary for you to consult a skilled family law attorney to protect your rights.  If you have more questions, please contact the Alford Law Office.

Photo by Luiza Leite

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