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Child Custody When Parents Live in Different States

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To develop your parenting plan, you must comply with the custody laws of the state where the plan will be filed, especially when parents reside in different states. If there’s an agreement on the state of jurisdiction, its regulations apply.

In the absence of agreement, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act determines the state’s authority. This act stipulates that a state court can decide custody if the child has lived there for at least six months, has significant connections in the state, or is present due to concerns of abuse, neglect, or abandonment.

If multiple states meet the criteria, the one issuing the first custody decision holds authority, and other states must enforce that decision. Attempting to relocate the child to another state for jurisdictional reasons may result in a custody denial.

Legal and Physical Custody

States recognize two types of child custody: legal and physical. Joint custody involves parents sharing both legal and physical custody. Even when living in different states, parents can agree on shared legal and physical custody. Legal custody grants decision-making authority, but challenges may arise for the non-residential parent in medical consultations. Physical custody ensures the child has homes with both parents, and the arrangement need not be a strict 50-50 split. Often, children spend more time with one parent, and when parents live far apart, a common arrangement is school-year residency with one parent and summers with the other.

Devising Inter-State Parenting Plans and Visitation Schedule

Once the state with custody authority is determined, you can create a parenting plan and visitation schedule.

For parents living in separate but reasonably close states, a conventional parenting plan suffices, offering various options for visitation.

For scenarios where the child faces significant travel, a vital component is the formulation of a long-distance parenting plan. This plan should intricately outline travel logistics, financial responsibilities for costs, and the specific conditions for home visits. The visitation schedule usually entails the child residing primarily with one parent and making periodic visits to the other, adapting to the family’s circumstances and catering to the child’s needs.

Relocating Following a Parenting Plan Being in Place

In cases where one parent moves far away after having a parenting plan, especially to a different state, it becomes necessary to establish a long-distance plan.

If you’re the custodial parent planning to relocate, review the terms of the existing plan to determine the allowable range for moving the child. If the non-custodial parent opposes the move, resolution may require court intervention.

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