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When other states may have jurisdiction in child custody cases

Starting a child custody case may be challenging for a parent if one does not know which state has jurisdiction. An Illinois resident would likely file in Illinois in many situations, but exceptions can occur. A state that a child has lived in for six consecutive months or more with a parent or guardian is considered the child's home state, and this is where custody requests must be filed. The state an infant has resided in from birth counts as the home state when a baby is younger than six months old, and temporary absences from a state do not change the status of one's home state.

If a parent and child moved to Illinois within the last six months, the parent cannot file for custody until six months have passed. A parent may also need to file in another state when a previous court order exists in a different state.

One might apply for custody before the six month point when filing for temporary emergency custody. Illinois follows the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, so this is only allowed when the child is in Illinois and needs emergency protection. A child could need emergency protection when a child or a child's parent or sibling suffers abuse or mistreatment or when they are threatened. One can also file under the UCCJEA if a child is abandoned.

When making determinations in child custody cases, judges always consider the best interests of a child or children. Courts usually like for both parents to be involved in a child's life, but this may be difficult when each parent lives in a different state. This could rule out joint physical custody, but a parent still has rights and responsibilities when living in another state.

Source: Women's Law, "Where can I file for child custody? (Which state has jurisdiction?)", December 19, 2014

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