If I'm Separated Getting Divorced, Can I Move Out of State With My Kids?
If you, or a former spouse, are considering moving to another state following a marital separation there a few things you should know about filing for child custody. North Carolina, as well as 48 other states, not including Massachusetts, has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). The purpose of the UCCJEA is to make finding the proper location to file for child custody easier.
The UCCJEA states that child custody proceedings should be filed in a child’s “home state”. A home state is simply the state where a child has lived with a parent for at least six consecutive months prior to the commencement of child custody proceedings. If your child is less than six months old, your child’s home state will be where he/she has lived since birth.
The home state is significant because it will have exclusive and continuing jurisdiction to hear the child custody matter. This means that even if a spouse moves with the child to another state during custody proceedings, the home state will still continue to be the only proper location to hear the child custody case.
If your former spouse has already moved with a child before custody hearings begin you still have options. The UCCJEA allows the parent still living in the home state of the child six months to file for custody after the child and former spouse have left the state. Even if your former spouse and child have moved to the other side of the country, the home state is still the only proper state to file for custody.
Whether you or a spouse have already moved or will be moving soon, you should contact an attorney to review all of the relevant factors and to discuss how to protect your child custody rights. If you would like to discuss your legal rights regarding the custody of a child or any other family law issue, please contact the Alford Law Firm.