Skip to Content

UCCJEA: Where Should I File My Original Case?

For families that may have moved around a lot, there can be challenges in figuring out which state has the proper jurisdiction to make an original child custody determination.

When dealing with these cases, we look to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”) to determine which state has jurisdiction over the child.

The purposes of UCCJEA are to:

  1. Avoid jurisdictional competition and conflict with courts of other states in matters of child custody.
  2. Promote cooperation with the courts of other states to ensure that a custody order is rendered in a state that can best decide the best interest of that particular child;
  3. Discourage the use of forum shopping to fight custody disputes;
  4. Deter abductions of children;
  5. Avoid relitigating custody decisions of other states in this state; and
  6. Help facilitate the enforcement of custody orders obtained in other states.

Your child custody case must be filed and heard by a state that has the jurisdiction to do so. A Texas court is the proper place for jurisdiction under the following circumstances:

  1. The child has lived in Texas with a parent for at least six months prior to filing suit;
  2. The child is six months old or younger and has lived in Texas with at least one parent since birth; or
  3. The child has moved away from Texas but lived in Texas with at least one parent for the six months preceding the filing of the case.

In some cases, it may take a little research to figure out if Texas is the correct place for jurisdiction. If a family has not lived in one state for the preceding six-month period, we will need to look at the last place that a family lived for at least six months to determine jurisdiction.

If you have questions regarding jurisdiction and whether Texas is the correct place for your filing, please contact us today, and one of our attorneys can assist you in understanding where to file.