Florida Courts and Child Custody Orders from Other States
There are few issues bigger than figuring out the custody arrangement of minor children in divorce cases. Determining which parent will have the largest amount of time, and in turn, the largest amount of influence on a child, is a key concern for any parent. Allocating parenting time and responsibilities is tricky in even the most amicable divorces, and if parents live in different states, this process becomes much more complicated. Enforcing and establishing child custody orders is integral to retaining the ability to exercise parental rights, and accessing the correct court is necessary to achieving this end. Typically, this issue comes up after the initial child custody order is issued in a divorce when a parent decides to move to another state for professional or personal reasons. A Jacksonville man recently won custody of his two young daughters after a Duval County judge decided the children’s mother violated a court order by moving the children to North Carolina without permission. Courts want a legal framework in place to ensure any child custody orders they issue are final and enforceable in order to prevent disruptive shifts for a child between parents. In response to this need, 49 states have passed a uniform law governing court jurisdiction over child custody matters when the parties live in different states. Parents with former spouses or partners that live in other states need to understand how this system works to protect their rights as parents and the child’s wellbeing.
Figuring Out Which Court to Petition
Courts only have authority to issue binding orders over parties if the court has jurisdiction to hear and decide a case. In the context of child custody orders, a court is only permitted to issue the initial child custody order if it has jurisdiction over the child. A court has jurisdiction if:
- the court is located in the child’s home state;
- the child and at least one parent have significant connections with a particular state; or
- significant amounts of information about the child’s care and personal relationships are located in a specific state.
Parties want the courts in their home states to decide cases because logistically it is easier and costs less money. Consequently, obtaining a child custody order while the parents still live in the same state is much easier, and should be sought before a change of residence occurs that could open up challenges from the other parent as to where the petition should be filed. However, once the initial custody order is granted, the jurisdictional rules between states are less stringent, and accessing courts to enforce these orders is easier.
Enforcing an Out-of-State Custody Order
When a parent moves to a new state, he/she first needs to register the out-of-state custody order with the local circuit court before seeking to enforce it. Registering the custody order gives the court in the new state the full authority implement the terms of the custody order. A valid registration includes:
- a written request to register the custody order;
- two copies of the custody order; and
- the names of the person registering the order and any other parents or adults with custody rights.
Once a custody order is registered, the other parent receives notice, and has an opportunity to contest it. A party must contest the registration with 20 days of receiving notice, or lose the right to contest jurisdiction or validity of the custody order in future legal actions.
Hire a Florida Family Law Attorney
If you have questions or concerns about child custody issues, do not hesitate to consult a family law attorney to learn about your rights. Asserting or establishing child custody rights is a crucial issue that should be handled by an experienced attorney to ensure the law is applied correctly. The Tampa law firm of Bubley & Bubley, P.A. understands the emotional nature of this matter, and will work to get you the results you desire. Contact us for a free consultation.