What is Home State Jurisdiction?

In the world of Child Custody cases, there are several terms that are crucial to be very familiar with, and understand clearly. The first of these is HOME STATE – it means where has the child been residing for the period JUST BEFORE the case was filed.

It is a six month window and it means for the preceding six months where has the child been living. If the child is under six months of age, then it is the time from birth to the date of filing.

Cases turn on these little issues, like how much time the child has been in a particular state. Last year our lawfirm had an interstate child custody case, we represented the father from Texas. Mother had left Texas with the child and returned to Los Angeles, California, after 5  and a 1/2 months in Texas.

By the time the courts heard the case, under Texas’ interpretation, the clock continued to run on the six months because mom fled the state without dad’s permission and they were willing to exert jurisdiction. In California the court kept jurisdiction because the child had not been in Texas the full six months before she was returned to Los Angeles, which was the prior Home State Jurisdiction.

The case is ongoing, with BOTH courts saying they have jurisdiction. The parties eventually agreed that dad should have custody, but technically, it’s the California case that is granting dad custody.

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