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Can your ex ask for custody in a different state?

Are you worried that your spouse may take your child to a different state when you get divorced? Are you concerned that he or she may then ask the courts in that state to rule on custody of the child, potentially making it so that you lose the right to see that child?

If so, you typically do not need to worry. Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, the courts in a child's home state have to make the ruling in the vast majority of cases. California and 47 other states use the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act; only Vermont and Massachusetts do not.

This means that your spouse can ask the courts in another state to rule, but they won't legally be allowed to do so, and your spouse will have to return to California to have the custody battle in the proper court. This way, both parents have an equal chance to fight for their rights.

Now, there are a few exceptions to this, such as a child whose family is in another state. For instance, if your spouse lived in Texas for his or her entire life and you just moved to California for a year, right before your young child was born, your spouse may be able to argue that Texas should rule in the case, even though the child's home state is technically California.

Another exception is if there is a safety risk and the child can't return to his or her home state as a result.

However, in most situations, the case has to be determined in the state where you, your spouse and your child were all living prior to the divorce. If your spouse is threatening to leave with your child or has already done so, you need to look into your legal rights immediately.

Source: FIndLaw, "Interstate Custody Arrangements," accessed Jan. 29, 2016

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