WARNING: Never attempt to litigate a “move-away” case on your own. As every divorce attorney in California who has filed or defended a “move away” case will tell you, this area of law is fraught with fatal technicalities and a single innocent mistep can cost you your relationship with your children.
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”) is the controlling law. This statute has been adopted, with some minor modifications, in every state. We have litigated a number of “move-away” cases with great success.
One recent case involved a Nigerian couple residing in New Jersey. (Foreign nationals living in the U.S. are subject to the UCCJEA. Custody disputes in which one parent resides in the United States and the other parent resides in foreign country may be covered by the Hague Convention.) They had one young child and Mother decided she wanted to move to California. Father had to stay in New Jersey. Mother moved without Father’s consent and Father retained us.
At the hearing on jurisdiction, the New Jersey court and the California court conferred with each other telephonically, which is what the law requires courts to do when determining which state has jurisdiction. We were present in Pasadena and were able to satisfy the court that New Jersey had jurisdiction. Producing this result “tipped” the case in Father’s favor and within a month, Father was able to secure substantial custody rights in New Jersey.