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Child Custody

Courts And Jurisdiction

Most custody decisions are made by family courts. However, where a juvenile court has found that a minor poses a threat to society if current custody arrangements continue, the juvenile court may turn over physical custody to the state. The court may simultaneously issue a so-called CHIPS petition, declaring the "child in need of protective services," if the current custodian is abusive or negligent.

Jurisdiction is an issue that has received much attention. A court has the power to settle a custody dispute if a child lives for at least six months in the location where the court has jurisdiction or if it is demonstrated that the court has the closest connection with the child. All states have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, originally adopted in 1967, which provides that a state's court will not accept a custody case unless that state has original jurisdiction or the state with original jurisdiction relinquishes it. All states have adopted the original uniform law. This law was updated in 1997 with the passage of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, which added a number of provisions for the enforcement of child-custody orders from other states. As of 2003, more than 30 states, including the District of Columbia, had adopted the new law, and several others were considering its adoption. The Hague Convention Treaty provides similar reciprocity between nations that are parties to it (implemented at 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 11601–11610 [Supp. 1993]).

A parent's interstate move sometimes blurs jurisdictional lines. For this reason, courts may restrict the geographic area in which a parent may live as part of the custody order, or they may deny a subsequent request for permission to move if the move is viewed as an attempt to hinder the other parent's visitation.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: Robert Lee Carter - Further Readings to Child MolestationChild Custody - Divorced Parents, Unmarried Parents, Criteria For Custody Awards, Social Issues: Sexual Orientation And Race - Changing Custody Awards, Termination of Custody