Is Florida Your Child’s Home State?
Each state in the nation sets its own family laws, and this fact can create a problem when parents move with children across state lines. Fortunately, Florida has signed onto the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), which sets ground rules for determining which court has the power (“jurisdiction”) to decide custody issues.
At Caroline Olson, P.A., we can help parents who have just moved to Florida with their child or who have watched another parent hauled a child to a different state. Contact our Jupiter parenting & timesharing attorney if you have questions.
What is the Home State?
Under the UCCJEA, a child’s home state has exclusive and continuing jurisdiction over custody issues. This provision helps provide uniformity and prevents courts in different states from issuing conflicting orders regarding who can have physical possession of the child.
Fla. Stat. § 61.503(7) identifies the home state as the state where the child has lived with a parent for six months immediately before the child custody action is filed in court. If the child is less than six months old, then it is the state where the child has lived since being born with his or her parents.
For example, a mother might take her one-year-old to North Carolina and try to modify a child custody order there. But North Carolina cannot be the home state, because they have just moved there. Instead, Florida remains the home state, and Florida courts have exclusive jurisdiction over these issues.
Can the Home State Change?
Yes. There are situations where the home state might lose enough of a connection with the child that it no longer should serve in that capacity. Fla. Stat. § 61.515 identifies some situations:
- A home state court decides that the child and parents do not have a “significant connection” with the state and “substantial evidence” regarding the child no longer exists in that state; or
- A court decides that the child and parents do not reside in the home state any longer.
For example, a couple might have divorced in Georgia, where a child custody determination was made. However, both parents and the child have now moved to Florida, though they do not live together. In this example, Georgia probably is no longer the home state. Instead, Florida will probably be the home state.
What if There is an Emergency?
Sometimes, children need to immediately be placed with someone to protect them from danger. Fortunately, the UCCJEA provides for temporary emergency jurisdiction which can apply when the child is abandoned or endangered. However, the order is only temporary in most cases. This means that a parent can return to the home state and seek a different order.
Temporary emergency jurisdiction can come into play if your child is visiting Florida and you suspect he or she is being abused back home. We can seek an emergency order allowing the child to stay with you, at least temporarily.
Contact Us Today
When parents move across borders, the law becomes very complex. Let us cut through the knots and advocate on your behalf. At the office of Caroline Olson, P.A., we represent clients in Jupiter, Boca Raton and Plantation.