Cindy Allen & Associates PLLC

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How can jurisdiction affect my child custody case?

Many people who are involved in child custody disputes where the other parent has moved away may be confused about where to petition the court to enforce their rights. This can be especially problematic for unmarried fathers who have not been in contact with the mother of their children for quite some time. 

Under Oklahoma law, a parent or a child must live within the state for a minimum of six months before jurisdiction may be established. This is a function of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) and every state in the U.S. has adopted some form of this law so that devious parties can avoid forum shopping. For cases that have already been established, an Oklahoma court will retain jurisdiction until one of a specific set of actions has occurred, for example, all the parties moving away from the state. 

In child custody cases, the question of jurisdiction is quite important. It could mean the difference between having the case heard in Oklahoma, or some other state. It may be a difficult question to answer if a party (or a couple) has continually moved from city to city without establishing a long term residence. In these instances, courts may look to other factors that may provide information about domicile, such as where taxes were filed, or where they were employed.

Because of the potential complexity with jurisdictional questions, it is prudent to discuss your questions with an attorney.

The preceding is general information not intended to be construed as legal advice.

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