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Where in the World Did I File This Case? Jurisdiction in Child Custody Cases

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) sets U.S. standards for child custody jurisdiction. A court with jurisdiction can issue or modify orders affecting a child. Every state but Massachusetts has adopted this law.

In Texas, the UCCJEA is part of the Texas Family Code, specifically in Chapter 152. This law guides courts in deciding on initial custody disputes, order modifications, and jurisdiction declination.

Making an Initial Custody Decision

In child custody cases, the court first assesses its jurisdiction over the child. If the child has lived in the county for over 180 days, the court gains jurisdiction. Given today’s high mobility, this decision can be complex.

Texas Family Code Section 152.201 outlines when Texas courts can make initial custody decisions. To easily establish jurisdiction, the child’s home state should be Texas. The case must be filed in the county where the child has lived for at least 180 days.

Texas may gain jurisdiction as the home state for the child if no other states have jurisdiction and the child’s home state opts not to exercise its jurisdiction, deeming Texas a more suitable and convenient forum for the case.

A Cautionary Tale From a Former Client of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, Pllc

A former client of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, learned a hard lesson. He hired us when his ex-wife moved to Texas and quickly filed a custody suit in Harris County.

Shocked that his children moved from Ohio to Texas, he responded poorly, becoming a cautionary tale. Rather than hiring a lawyer and engaging in the process, he sent a letter challenging Harris County court’s jurisdiction.

His failure to respond and attend key hearings led to Ohio declining jurisdiction, keeping the case in Harris County. His inaction lost a chance to move the case to Ohio for a potentially better outcome.

He refused to act, relying on his own sense of right and wrong, and questioned Harris County court’s actions.

Nevertheless, the Texas court had jurisdiction and modified the order without him present. By hiring us later, it was too late to address the issue effectively.

Discover the secrets of child custody jurisdiction in our latest blog! 🧐🌐 We've unraveled the complexities and shared insights on interstate disputes, UCCJEA, international cases, and more. Your roadmap to understanding the child custody conundrum awaits! 🚀👨‍👩‍👧‍👦

Our child custody lawyers did the best they could to reason with the court but the order remained and jurisdiction was solidified in Texas, along with the changes that were not in our client’s favor.

Emergency Situations that may provide jurisdiction for Texas courts

If a parent abandons a child in Texas, and the child physically resides there, a Texas court will assume temporary emergency jurisdiction to issue orders protecting the child’s best interests.

This is also the case when the child has been the victim of abuse or mistreatment of some kind. If no other state has issued any child custody orders the emergency order can become a final order as well.

In every situation a court in Texas must contact an out-of-state court as we saw in the anecdote involving one of our former clients. This is done to ascertain which jurisdiction it was proper to have the case filed in.

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC- Strong Advocates for Texas Families

The bottom line is that if no other state has issued orders on a child and if Texas is the most convenient location to have jurisdiction on the custody matter, then a custody case will most likely be held in Texas.

Discover the secrets of child custody jurisdiction in our latest blog! 🧐🌐 We've unraveled the complexities and shared insights on interstate disputes, UCCJEA, international cases, and more. Your roadmap to understanding the child custody conundrum awaits! 🚀👨‍👩‍👧‍👦

If you have questions on this area of the law and how it can affect your family, please contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC to set up a free of charge consultation with one of our family law attorneys. Don’t allow yourself to make a mistake that may result in your losing time with your child. A call to the Law Office of Bryan Fagan can help you decide how to best proceed to protect your rights as a parent.

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