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Dealing With Interstate Child Custody Issues: Part Two - Understanding Exceptions to the “Home State” Rule

Posted on in Child Custody

Aurora divorce Custody jurisdiction Matters

Determining child custody can be a messy experience for many families. This can be especially true when parents live in two different states, or if a parent even lives in a different country. In the first part of this two-part blog series, we looked at how jurisdiction is initially determined for child custody proceedings when parents do not live in the same state using the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA.) In most cases, the custody proceedings which determine parenting time and decision-making responsibilities will take place in the child's home state. However, there are some situations in which the child may not have a home state or another reason may exist why the home state will not hear the child’s case.

Exceptions to the Home State Rule

As previously discussed, the home state rule is typically enough for courts to determine which state has jurisdiction over a child custody case. However, circumstances may exist that make it impossible or imprudent to use the home state rule. In these cases, different rules apply when determining jurisdiction. If the home state rule does not apply, the following rules will apply in order of application:

  1. Significant Connections: If a child has no home state or the home state denies jurisdiction, then the state where the child has “significant connections” and that has sufficient evidence for the case should step in. The UCCJEA states that either the child or at least one parent of the child must have significant ties with the state, other than their “mere physical presence.” Factors such as the length of time in which the child lived in the state and the location and type of evidence available for the case will be considered.

  2. More Appropriate Forum: The UCCJEA allows both the supposed home state and the state with alleged significant connections to decline jurisdiction if they both agree that a different state would pose a more appropriate forum for the case. These states can deny jurisdiction if the case would pose an inconvenience or if a parent committed “unjustifiable conduct” which could be something such as removing the child from the appropriate jurisdiction.

  3. Vacuum Jurisdiction: If there is no home state, no state with significant connections, and no more appropriate forum, then a court can “fill the vacuum” and take jurisdiction over the case. Many times, vacuum jurisdiction takes over when a child moves from place to place and has not formed a significant connection with any one place.

Speak to a Kane County Child Custody Lawyer Today

Determining how parenting time and decision-making responsibilities are allocated can be difficult and stressful enough, but things can become even more complicated when your child’s other parent lives in a different state. Before you do anything, you must make sure that you begin your child’s case in the correct jurisdiction. At the Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C., we can help you determine where the appropriate place is to file your custody case. Our skilled Aurora, IL child custody attorney has experience working with clients who have spouses in different states. To schedule a consultation, call our office today at 630-409-8184.




The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.


1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

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