Michigan Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction

When a marriage ends, it is only natural for parents to separate. In some cases, this means not only separating households, with one or both parents leaving the familial home, but it could also entail one or both parents moving to another state to live and work.

In some cases, custody or paternity cases unrelated to marriage and divorce may involve parents residing in different jurisdictions. What does this mean for a parent seeking partial of full custody of a child, visitation rights, or other parenting time?

Jurisdiction must be established in order to move forward with any child custody case, and the state that is determined to hold jurisdiction could have a major impact on the outcome. This is because different states have different laws pertaining to child custody and child custody cases.

If you live in Michigan or you want to file for custody there, you need to first understand the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). What is it and how will it affect your ability to obtain child custody in Michigan? Here’s what you should know.

What is the Michigan UCCJEA?

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act was originally drafted in 1997 by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, and has since been adopted by 49 states, including Michigan (Massachusetts is the lone holdout). In Michigan, Act 195 was adopted in 2001, and it generally serves to prescribe “the powers and duties of the court in a child-custody proceeding involving this state and a proceeding or party outside of this state”.
In other words, the UCCJEA is used to determine whether or not Michigan courts have jurisdiction in child custody cases where one parent lives in the state and another resides outside the state of Michigan. The law provides that jurisdiction is held by a minor child’s “home state”. How is a child’s home state established?

According to the Michigan UCCJEA, the home state is defined as “the state in which a child lived with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least 6 consecutive months immediately before the commencement of a child-custody proceeding”, or in cases where an infant is under 6 months old, “the state in which the child lived from birth with a parent or person acting as a parent”.

What if you are now living in Michigan and your child lives in another state, or you have an old case in another state but you have since moved to Michigan with your child? In such cases, the other state may have jurisdiction, or you may have grounds to file for a new case in Michigan under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act.

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Although you can do this on your own, the process can be extremely complex when more than one jurisdiction is potentially involved. The best way to ensure that you follow proper legal procedure and see the outcome you prefer is to hire a qualified and experience family law attorney in Michigan. If there are potential jurisdictional hurdles, this professional can help you figure out whether or not it is possible to transfer custody determination to the state of Michigan.

How to Transfer Custody Determination to Michigan

The first thing you need to do is fill out a Michigan UCCJEA Affidavit, providing information that allows Michigan courts to determine where jurisdiction for a child custody case lies. If it turns out that jurisdiction is in another state, all hope is not lost. You need not worry about commuting to another state for a child custody case just yet.

It is possible to transfer a custody determination from another state to Michigan. There are, however, several steps involved in this complex process, and there is no guarantee that you will be able to transfer custody determination if it has already been established in another state.

With the assistance of a qualified family lawyer, you have the best chance to ensure that you complete this detailed process appropriately, in keeping with the uniform child custody jurisdiction act. It begins with filing a request with the county clerk in your county of residence in Michigan, asking that the custody determination be transferred from out of state to the state of Michigan.

You will be required to provide several pieces of pertinent information, including facts pertaining to the current custodial arrangement and custody determination proceedings in another state, among other things. The Michigan UCCJEA provides direction for parents seeking to establish Michigan as the jurisdiction for custody determination, so even if you are not currently able to do so, you can follow appropriate steps to try to obtain transfer of custody determination at some point.