Over my years of practice as a Denver area divorce and custody attorney, I have become familiar with the tenets of Colorado statute regarding interstate custody issues. Whether in a divorce or custody case, when interstate custody issues arise, the primary relevant statutory section is what is called the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, or UCCJEA to us family law attorneys.
The UCCJEA is codifed in Colorado statute as C.R.S. 14-13-101 et. Seq. The UCCJEA sets forth various rules and guidelines for dealing with interstate custody cases. The major ones are as follows:
1. An original child custody action shall be started in the child’s “home state,” which is the state that the child has resided in for the 6 month time frame just before the case is filed. Temporary absences from the home state do not count against the 6 months. Additionally, you can still file for a child under 6 months of age.
2. For purposes of modifying visitation or custody orders, the originating state, meaning the state in which orders were originally entered, generally retains jurisdiction so long as the child or one of the parents remains in that state. In certain instances, if the child has been gone so long from the originating state that it is no longer a “convenient forum,” then the originating state may give up jurisdiction.
3. If both parents are gone from the originating state, then jurisdiction would follow the child to his or her new “home state.”
4. Emergency jurisdiction can be sought in another state where the child may be, provided the court in that state finds there to be a true emergency warranting a temporary/emergency exercise of jurisdiction.
Though these seem like simple rules, it is not uncommon for family law attorneys to be preplexed or confused when faced with certain facts for a client. If your divorce or custody case involves interestate child issues, it is important for you to find a Denver area attorney with a firm grasp of the UCCJEA. The attorneys at Plog & Stein are familiar with and adept at handling these UCCJEA cases. We have seen cases over the years in which a party or attorney wrongly files a case in Colorado when jurisiction clearly rests in another state. In those instances, we do not hesitate to seek dismissal for lack of jurisdiction.
Aside from wanting your case completed in a timely manner, it is never fun to spend money on a case only to see it dismissed because interstate jurisdiction was not proper.
At Plog & Stein, P.C., we strive to thoroughly assess all aspects of any interstate custody case or divorce involving children.