When Child Custody Cases Cross State Lines

Generally speaking where there has been no prior order on custody for a child, the child must reside in the State of Iowa for at least one-hundred and eighty (180) days (6 months) before the Iowa courts would have jurisdiction to enter orders concerning any orders regarding custody or visitation rights with respect to that child. This requirement would be in addition to any possible residency requirement required before a party can file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage —a parent must reside in the state for one year prior to petitioning for a dissolution of marriage unless both parties reside in the state. Notwithstanding this, there are certain exceptions which will allow a filing to occur earlier most of those dealing with situations either where a child may be subject to neglect or abuse or where a parent is fleeing an abusive spouse. The lawyers at Culp, Doran & Genest, P.L.C., in Des Moines are experienced with the ends and outs of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) and can assist you in negotiating the UCCJEA to ensure that you receive the maximum benefit.

In those instances where a person contacts us from another state, we can assure that any party who has brought an action here is complying with the UCCJEA and take appropriate action if necessary to ensure that a parent is not allowed to improperly flee a different jurisdiction which would have a better claim to adjudicate claims of custody and visitation.

Modification Actions

In our mobile society, it is not uncommon for custody orders to be entered in one state only to see a parent or parents move away from the state which originally issued the child custody order. Under the UCCJEA , if one parent remains in the state that issued the order (the decretal state) as a general rule, that state will have exclusive jurisdiction to enter any orders modifying the custody or visitation provisions of a decree. The attorneys at Culp, Doran & Genest, P.L.C., are familiar with modification actions and can help you negotiate the UCCJEA to ensure compliance with it. We can offer advice as to whether your case is one where a modification action may be filed in the state of Iowa or it is necessary to return to the state which issued the original decree. It is important to ensure that an application is filed in the appropriate state. As a failure to follow the UCCJEA generally results in an entry of an order which is void and not subject to enforcement.

Enforcement Actions

Under the UCCJEA, an out-of-state decree may be registered for purposes of enforcing it in Iowa courts. If you are a noncustodial parent and are seeking to enforce the terms of an out-of-state decree, registry in the state of Iowa may be possible. The family law attorneys at Culp, Doran & Genest, P.L.C., can assist you in ensuring that there is a proper enforcement of an out-of-state decree by using the methods allowed under Iowa's version of the UCCJEA. Enforcement at times is easier by registering in the state of Iowa rather than going back to the original state. We can assist you in determining what will be the appropriate course of action and what will allow you the best opportunity for a favorable outcome at minimum cost.