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Understanding jurisdiction in interstate child custody cases

The state of Washington, along with 48 other states, has enacted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. This act contains the standards under which a court can issue child custody decisions, and it lays out when a court must follow the decisions made be a court in another state. This is especially important when a child's parents are no longer in a relationship together and they reside in different states.

In general, a state court will have jurisdiction over a child case if certain conditions exist. First of all, the state court in the state in which the child resides may have jurisdiction in child custody cases. To be considered the child's home state, the child must have lived there with his or her mother or father for six months or more before the child custody action has been presented to the court.

If a state is not the child's home state, its courts may still exercise jurisdiction over child custody cases involving the child if the child has "significant connections" with other individuals in the state, such as relatives, physicians, friends or teachers. Following that, if a child is residing in a state due to safety issues, such as in cases of neglect or abuse, that state's court may have jurisdiction over child custody cases. Finally, if no other state falls under one of the aforementioned avenues for jurisdiction or if a state that does meet one of the above standards but has declined jurisdiction, then another state court may have jurisdiction over child custody cases.

Establishing jurisdiction is a necessary component of the legal system in Oklahoma. When it comes to child custody decisions, it is important to promote stability and attentive care in the child's life. Jurisdictional issues are an important part of this. Those who have questions about the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act in Washington may need to contact an attorney in order to become better informed.

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