Special issues and circumstances related to child custody can arise at times after the custody arrangement has been put into effect after a divorce. When custody is initially agreed to and established, it is for the most part determined according to the children’s best interests. However, life circumstances for the mother, father, and children sometimes change and so do the best interests of children in many cases. But what happens when one parent who lives out-of-state wants to modify the current custody arrangement?

Modifying custody when the parents live in different states

The determination as to which state has the original jurisdiction over a child custody arrangement is governed by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCIEA). Under this federal law, the child’s home state is the state in which the child resides for at least six months. Other states do not have the power to change the child custody established under the jurisdiction of the home state.

Congress has also passed a law – the Parent Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA) – which prevents a parent from taking a child from his or her home state and fleeing to another state to obtain a change to the initial custody support agreement. As an example, a mother and father have one child. The couple divorced and the mom has custody of the child in the home state. Dad relocates to another state and mom sends the child to dad for visitation under the arrangement. However, dad rushes to court in his new state to obtain a brand-new child custody order. The new state is not permitted to grant custody to the dad. It is bound by the law of the home state under PKPA.

Changes to visitation if a parent moves out of state

A parent is permitted to request modification of the custody and visitation arrangement in the child’s home state court that originally delivered the custody order. The court may be persuaded to make the requested modification if it believes the change can preserve and facilitate a positive relationship between the child and his or her petitioning parent.

The only way to change an existing custody agreement

When an existing custody order is in force, any modification requests must be presented to the original court that issued the order. So that means a parent out of state must come to the home state court to request any modifications. Custody orders are usually only changed if:

  • A violation of the current custody arrangement has occurred
  • Since the initial custody order was issued, circumstances have changed significantly, and the proposed modifications would serve the child’s best interest.

Modifying a custody order can involve complexity and even more so when it is attempted across state lines. At Taylor Jones Taylor, we offer our services to families throughout Mississippi, including in Southaven, Hernando, and Olive Branch. Our child custody attorneys can help you and your ex-spouse work out any potential modifications to your existing custody agreement. We can protect your rights and the best interests of your child in the process. To schedule a consultation, call us today at 662-342-1300 or complete our contact form.