In many divorce and custody cases involving children, the parties both stay in the state of Minnesota and the courts within the state will continue to make all determinations regarding custody and parenting time for the children. However, there are situations where the parties both move out of state or even out of the country and custody determinations must be made. What happens then?
Minnesota, along with most other states in the US, has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). The UCCJEA determines which state will have the ability to make a custody or parenting time determination where more than one state is involved to start, and also it determines who will continue to have control over custody and parenting time determinations for the child’s minority.
The UCCJEA also extends to international custody matters, though these are much more difficult to enforce. Foreign countries have not adopted the UCCJEA and are under little or no obligation to follow it. If the foreign country determines under its law that the child custody matters may be determined in its jurisdiction, it may assert jurisdiction and take over the decisions. This would be likely in a case where the child has moved with a parent, with the consent of the other parent or the court, to a foreign country and has been residing there.
Interstate and international custody matters are very complex and are not something that most individuals are able to handle without an attorney. It involves state, international and foreign law, and often will involve attorneys from both countries to navigate through the system.