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How do states' child custody laws handle parental relocations?

Parents in Illinois may be concerned that, in a custody dispute, the other parent may relocate with the child to another state and then get a favorable child custody order from that state. This was recognized as a problem years ago, so 48 of the 50 states have enacted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act to discourage these kinds of bad-faith parental relocations. This blog post will describe the UCCJA in a little more detail.

The UCCJA has rules that govern whether a state's courts have jurisdiction to issue a child custody order. For example, a state court system will have jurisdiction if the state is the child's home state. For a state to be the child's home state, the child must have resided with a parent in the state for at least six months prior to the case being brought. Alternatively, the child can also have been residing in the state before a parent removed the child from the state.

Under the UCCJA, a state may also have jurisdiction over a child custody case if the child has significant connections with people in the state. This can include connections with teachers, doctors or grandparents. In order for there to be significant connections, there should also be substantial evidence inside the state concerning the child's care, training, protection and personal relationships, such as friends.

A state may also have jurisdiction if the child is in the state after being removed from another state for fear of abuse, abandonment or neglect if the child was in the other state. A state may also have jurisdiction if there is no other state that has jurisdiction or chooses to assert jurisdiction over the matter.

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