The Netflix movie, Marriage Story, chronicles the divorce of two devoted parents of a young boy involved in an interstate custody dispute. In a fictional account that mimics real life, the story begins with a marriage on the rocks and a subsequent move by the mother and son from NY to CA to take a temporary work assignment. The mother and son begin to build a new life in L.A., enrolling the son in school, reconnecting with extended family and friends, and extending employment. At some point, the wife tells her husband that she not only wants a divorce, but that she and the son will not be returning. The father character unwittingly becomes involved in an interstate child custody dispute with the mother.
What many parents do not realize is that when their spouse or significant other leaves with their children to reside in another state – perhaps in a mutually agreed upon breather from the relationship – the passage of time in the other state may change the jurisdiction in a child custody case if the other parent should decide to move on. In the absence of a court ordered parenting plan in the state where the family originally resided, jurisdiction may be vested in the child’s new home state, defined as “where the child has lived with a parent for six consecutive months (or since birth) prior to the commencement of a proceeding such as divorce.
In situations like this, the now “non-custodial” parent may find that the case is no longer under the jurisdiction of their state, requiring that parent to find counsel in the state where the child resides along with incurring travel expenses to travel back and forth. Furthermore, in prioritizing the child’s best interests, the court may decide that the child ‘staying put’ at the new school, with his or her new friends, and continuing a close relationship with extended family trumps the other parents desire to return the child to his previous home state. What was ‘supposed to be’ a temporary separation at the outset – perhaps a cooling off period before spousal reconciliation – has turned into a potentially expensive and time consuming child custody issue for the parent left behind.
Interstate Child Custody Jurisdiction Lawyers
The particulars regarding home state jurisdiction are outlined in the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) which has been adopted by most states including Illinois. Illinois law sets forth the order of priority when deciding which state has jurisdiction in an initial determination of child custody and under what conditions a state that has made a custody determination retains jurisdiction. Because interstate child custody disputes are often complex, it is important to work with an attorney who has experience with interstate child custody disputes. If you have questions regarding Illinois family law with regard to an interstate child custody situation, we encourage you to contact the Illinois family law offices of Schlesinger & Strauss LLC for help at 847-680-4970.