Interstate Child Custody Issues
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJEA) is a set of laws that were put into place to give the courts an outline for how to determine various child custody issues. Most states in the country, including Pennsylvania, have adopted these statutes.
The laws laid out in the UCCJEA also help courts decide which state has jurisdiction in a custody case. Jurisdiction is usually easy to determine, however, it can become very complex when a child has been moved from state to state.
Pennsylvania Interstate Child Custody Decisions
The experienced legal team at Ciccarelli Law Offices can help you sort through the complex issues associated with unique situation, whether you are looking to relocate your family or are contesting the relocation of your child. We are proud to continue our tradition of providing long-term solutions and diffusing stressful situations for parents throughout the state of Pennsylvania.
Our family lawyers work with mothers, fathers, and grandparents across West Chester, Lancaster, Downingtown, Exton, Coatesville, Radnor, Kennett Square, Malvern, Springfield, and nearby areas. We use a team approach towards all of our cases, which means that you will get the combined knowledge and experience of multiple attorneys.
Call (610) 692-8700 or send an online message for a free consultation so we can act as soon as possible. We are based in West Chester PA and serve clients throughout Chester County, Lancaster County and suburban Philadelphia including West Chester, Kennett Square, Oxford, Avondale, Landenberg, West Grove, Paoli, Malvern, Downingtown, Coatesville, Exton, Parkesburg, Berwyn and Devon. We have convenient meeting locations in Lancaster, Philadelphia, Plymouth Meeting, Kennett Square, Malvern, Springfield, King of Prussia, and Radnor. Our family lawyers serve those with immediate legal needs in Chester County, Montgomery County, Delaware County and Lancaster County.
Information on State and Federal Laws Regarding Interstate Child Custody
- Determining Court Jurisdiction in Pennsylvania Interstate Child Custody Cases
- Pennsylvania’s Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act
Determining Court Jurisdiction in Pennsylvania Interstate Child Custody Cases
According to the UCCJEA, whatever county and state the child has lived for the six months prior to the custody hearing, is the county and state court that has jurisdiction over the custody proceeding.
In most cases, if a custody order has already been put into place, the court that entered the original custody order will be in charge of modifying it unless the court believes that a court in another county would be more appropriate. Special circumstances that could give a county court the jurisdiction to make decisions pertaining to child custody include:
- The child is deeply connected to people within the state. People such as doctors, teachers, grandparents, and other family members.
- The child’s custody order was originally entered in another state but the child was abandoned or is at risk of being neglected if sent back to the original state.
Pennsylvania family courts also make a decision on the custody of the child if the child has not been in another state for at least six months, is not in danger of being abandoned or neglected, does not have serious connections to people in another state, and there has not previously been a custody hearing pertaining to the child.
Consult with a West Chester custody lawyer to determine if an emergency order should be pursued to temporarily pause the relocation until a long-term resolution can be found.
Pennsylvania’s Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act
According to the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, a parent may not simply relocate to another state and attempt to gain custody. The Parental Kidnapping Prevention dictates that he or she will be denied custody by the new state of residence.
This act also prevents another state from entering a custody order for a child if a court in another state is already in the process of making a custody decision. The new state is only allowed to enter a decision if the court in the previous state lost or declined the right to proceed with a custody hearing.
Here is a scenario to better illustrate the implications of this act: A child’s hometown is in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and a Chester County family court is in the process of making a decision on custody after a hearing. One of the parents moves to New York with the child and files a petition to a court within NY, pursuing legal custody of the child. Because of the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, the New York family court would not be able to make a decision on the child’s custody, and the parent may even face criminal charges for kidnapping.
Making a Child Custody Agreement with a Parent in Another State
If you are involved in a dispute in Pennsylvania, contact the qualified family law attorneys of Ciccarelli Law Offices. We proudly serve clients throughout West Chester, Phoenixville, King of Prussia, Villanova, Ardmore, Greater Philadelphia, and nearby areas, who are faced with this difficult scenario.
Call today at (610) 692-8700 or send an online message to schedule your consultation. Your first consultation is free, and it is the first step in building your case.