The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act applies to child custody cases in most states, including Wisconsin and Minnesota. Parents should understand the provisions of the UCCJEA when they have children together but live in separate states.
Learn how the UCCJEA governs the jurisdiction of child custody cases.
Home state determination
When you file a custody case involving two states, the UCCJEA establishes the child’s home state as follows:
- The state where the child lived in the six months before the custody case began has primary jurisdiction if one parent still lives there but the child does not.
- When no state has primary jurisdiction as described above, the state where at least one parent and the child live and have substantial connections
- When neither of these factors applies, the parent can file a custody case in any state where the child has connections (family members or school, for example).
The court in the state with jurisdiction has the discretion to transfer the case to another state.
After the initial custody decision, parents must file in that state for additional legal matters if necessary. However, a few exceptions exist. A parent can ask the court to transfer jurisdiction to another state if the child and both parents no longer live in the state or if the court finds parents and child no longer have a connection to that state and it does not have evidence of the custody determination.
For example, parents who live in Wisconsin with a young child would file there for custody even if one parent moves to Minnesota.