Interstate Child Custody Issues for Divorcing Parents
When parents and their children have lived in different states throughout the duration of the marriage, extremely complicated issues arise regarding child custody in a divorce case. In Illinois, the key for handling disputes is jurisdiction—a court’s authority differs when handling divorce matters versus child custody battles. Jurisdiction may be proper over one aspect of the case, but not appropriate for the other. Because of the highly complex nature of the legal issues involved, it is wise to retain an Illinois divorce attorney with experience in interstate child custody issues.
Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, a court has jurisdiction to enter an order of dissolution of marriage so long as one of the spouses was a resident of the state when filing for divorce. In addition, jurisdiction is proper if one of the spouses was stationed in Illinois as a member of the armed services. The spouse must be a resident or have military presence in the state for at least 90 days prior to initiating divorce proceedings. Once the filing spouse meets the 90 day requirement and submits the petition for divorce, the case will proceed in Illinois regardless of where the other spouse lives.
Initial Child Custody Jurisdiction Under UCCJEA
Illinois has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act to govern child custody matters. An Illinois court will accept jurisdiction over a case if the state is the child’s “home” state upon initiation of custody proceedings or within the six-month period beforehand, and one of the parents is a resident. Jurisdiction is also proper where:
- No other state has taken jurisdiction as the child’s “home” state or has declined to do so;
- There is a significant connection to Illinois, for both the child and the parent; and
- Resources contributing to the child’s care and protection are available in Illinois.
Once an Illinois court addresses jurisdictional questions and accepts jurisdiction, the judge will apply state law in determining child custody issues. The statute requires a court to address allocation of parental responsibilities, decision-making, and parenting time in the context of the child’s best interests.
Schedule a Consultation with a Qualified Illinois Divorce Attorney
Couples with children already face challenging legal issues when going through the divorce process in Illinois; becoming involved in an interstate child custody dispute further complicates the case. Therefore, it is critical to retain a knowledgeable attorney with a background in the jurisdictional issues that impact these matters.
A qualified lawyer will advise you on your options and provide additional explanation on how jurisdiction may affect your case. The skilled DuPage County family law attorneys at Davi Law Group, LLC have represented many clients, so please contact us with questions about your situation.