When Does NY Have Jurisdiction in Child Custody Matters?

The state in which a parent lives doesn’t necessarily have authority over child custody disputes or agreements. Laws determine custodial jurisdiction.

New York has jurisdiction over custody issues related to a child if it is considered the child’s “home state.” This designation is governed by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA).

New York may be considered a child’s home state in the following circumstances:

  • The child lived in New York with a parent or someone acting as a parent for at least 6 months prior to the custody proceedings.
  • If the child is younger than 6 months, they have lived in New York since birth.

Initial Child Custody Jurisdiction

The initial child custody determination refers to the first time a child is subject to a custody decision.

New York has the authority to make child custody decisions if one of the following is true:

  • New York is the home state of the child when the custody proceeding began.
  • New York was the home state of the child within six months before the commencement of the proceeding, but a parent continues to live in this state and has a significant connection to the state including related to the child’s care.
  • No other state has jurisdiction.
  • A court of the home state has declined to exercise jurisdiction on the grounds that New York is the more appropriate forum.

With the UCCJEA, only one state can have jurisdiction over custody. This discourages parents from forum shopping for custody around various states in the hopes of an outcome favorable to them. States cannot have competing agreements.

Modifying Child Custody After Moving to New York

The U.S. is a mobile country where people routinely move to other states for work, family, or relationships. A need to change custody arrangements is also common as the needs and circumstances of children and their parents shift over time. Once again, determining the state of jurisdiction is the first step before filing for a custody modification.

If New York had original jurisdiction, the state retains that jurisdiction except in these scenarios:

  • Neither the parent nor the child has a significant connection to the state.
  • A court determines that neither the child, the parents, nor anyone acting as a parent lives in New York.

New York can acquire jurisdiction to modify custody originally determined in another state if one of the following occurs:

  • The court of the other state determines it no longer has exclusive jurisdiction over custody.
  • The court of the other state determines that New York is the most convenient venue for the legal action.
  • A court in the original state or New York determines that the child, the parents, nor anyone acting as a parent lives in the original state.

New York Has Authority for Temporary Emergency Custody

Even in cases where New York is clearly not the home state of the child, a parent living in New York can seek temporary emergency custody here. A court of this state has temporary emergency jurisdiction if the child is present in the state and there is an emergency to protect the child, a sibling, or a parent.

If temporary emergency custody is granted, the New York court will typically state a time period for the order to be in effect. The parent is then expected to file for a custody modification in the state currently with jurisdiction. The New York judge consults with the judge in the original state to decide how to best protect those involved and how long the temporary order should remain in effect.

Legal Counsel for Complex Custody Cases

Custody cases are rarely simple, but they can be especially complicated if the parents live in different states, or the child has lived in different states.

Understand your rights to seek child custody in New York by scheduling a consultation with the legal team at the Law Office of Dennis R. Vetrano, Jr., LLC. We have extensive trial and negotiation experience. Our goal is to reach a resolution as quickly and efficiently as possible. Reach us online or call (845) 605-4330.

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