Child custody matters are complex enough, but when you add another set of state laws to the mix, things can get really dicey. Here’s what you need to know about how Texas handles interstate child custody cases and how to get legal help protecting the rights of your family.
Determining the Child’s Home State
Two states cannot have jurisdiction over a custody case, so the child’s “home” state must be determined under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). The home state will be the one that issues judgments on custody and visitation matters, child support, and other related issues. To determine the home state, Texas courts will look at:
The 6 Month Rule
Most often, the child’s home state is the state they have lived in with one parent for the last six months. If the child is less than six months old, the home state is typically where the child was born.
The Significant Connection and Evidence Rule
A court may assume jurisdiction over a child custody case if:
- They have evidence that suggests the child’s safety or welfare is at risk within their state
- The child has significant connections within the state.
Both criteria must be met for the significant connection and evidence rule to apply. If the state lacks enough evidence, or the child does not have reasonably significant connections in the state, courts may not be able to take over jurisdiction.
The Emergency Jurisdiction Rule
In some cases, it may be necessary for a state with no connections to the child to take emergency jurisdiction. This can be done when the state believes domestic violence or child abuse is occurring and emergency action must be taken to protect the child’s safety and wellbeing.
Emergency jurisdiction can apply even after the child’s home state has already been determined. For example, a Texas court can assume emergency jurisdiction over an Oklahoma child custody case if the child’s parent makes a domestic violence report in the state of Texas.
When to Contact a Texas Family Law Attorney
If you’re involved in an interstate child custody case, don’t wait to reach out to an experienced Texas family lawyer. The Bourlon Law Firm will do everything possible to keep jursdiction with Texas courts, or whichever court is in the best interest of the child. Contact us today for a consultation at (361) 289-6040.