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Understanding Interstate Child Custody in Missouri


We have the experience to help you through the complexities of a child custody case.

child custody paper

Child custody disputes are generally tedious, stressful and complex in nature. Often, divorcing/divorced parents move away to another state in pursuit of a new job or another opportunity. This brings up the question of custody and visitation rights. In this article, we will discuss interstate child custody in Missouri in detail.

History of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act

There have been cases where the parent with the custody of the child simply relocates with the child with little or no intimation to the other parent. Conversely, there have been cases in the past of the non-custodial parent ‘kidnapping’ the child and relocating to another state. Thereafter, the non-custodial parent approaches the court in the other state with hopes that the courts of the other state might be sympathetic to their cause and will grant a favorable reversing of orders with respect to child custody rights. Many find success in getting those orders reversed.

Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act

In a bid to avoid such cases, the UCCJA (Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act) was drawn in 1968 and was adopted by all the states in 1981. Primarily, the UCCJA was introduced to reduce or discourage the ‘kidnapping’ of children by non-custodial parents, and it worked on two basic principles:

  • First, the establishment of the jurisdiction of the child custody case in one state
  • Second, to protect the state court order from modification in any state, as long as the jurisdiction of the case lies with one state.

The UCCJA in itself did not address the concept of ‘home state’ thereby creating confusion as to which state has jurisdiction over the child custody case.

Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act

In 1981, the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA) was introduced. The PKPA, while essentially addressing the same principles as the UCCJA, added the principles of Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution of the United States to the UCCJA. However, it differed on two key accounts:

  • It gave exclusive jurisdiction and authority to the ‘home state’ or the original state where the child custody case was established, and
  • Once the exclusivity of the jurisdiction of a state is established, the state has continued authority over jurisdiction until all original parties exit the state.

In practice, both the Acts worked well in tandem, except that they did not address interstate enforcement of child custody orders. Often divorced parents choose to live in different states, giving more than one state the power to adjudicate a child custody dispute. This added complexities to a child custody dispute rather than simplifying and solving it.

St. Louis Child Custody Attorneys

At The Betz Law Firm, we recognize the delicate nature of child custody proceedings and make it a priority to ensure that the interests of you and your child are considered first and foremost. The idea of losing precious time with a child can be overwhelming for a parent whose primary goal is to protect their well being. We have the experience you need to help your family through these difficult times and to make sure that you are satisfied with the end result.

Call us today at (314) 801-8488 or fill out our online contact form to request a free and private consultation.