co parenting across diff

Co-Parenting Across Different States: Should You Be Worried?


Co-parenting across different states can be tough and definitely difficult to pull off legally and practically. On a practical viewpoint, it can really be stressful during visitation because of the length of time it would take to travel. It can be arduous financially too. On the legal side of things, it can be quite difficult to achieve child custody and child visitation arrangements.

Each state has its own laws regarding child custody. You can’t really expect a law in one state to apply in the next state, especially when it’s child custody we’re talking about. We have to remember that each state is sovereign and cannot be subjected to the rulings and holdings of other states. This is why it can be quite difficult and problematic for divorced parents who are residing in different states. Co-parenting is difficult as it is when you’re living just a few blocks apart in one state. Imagine how it would be if you tackle co-parenting across different states!




This kind of problematic setup seen in co-parenting across different states is not a rare case. Thankfully, the UCCJEA, or Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act is in place. This determines which state will be in charge to control the situation between the parents. This comes in handy especially when parents are in need of judicial orders including child custody and visitation. When the UCCJEA decides which state will control the situation, the parent living in the controlling state will obviously have certain advantages where co-parenting across different states is concerned.

The main objective that led to the implementation of the UCCJEA is to prevent parents from moving from one court to another until a ruling that is favorable for them is achieved. To avoid such court-hopping situation, the UCCJEA states that the child’s home state is the one where all custody and visitation matters are to be decided. At times, it can be quite simple to decide which of the two states is the home state of the child, but sometimes it isn’t quite easy to determine. It can be easy to tell the child’s home state when the child spends a majority of time with one parent over the other. Otherwise, it would require careful analysis to determine the child’s home state.


Determining the Child’s Home State


If the child did not spend the entire most-recent six months in one state over the other, the court will consider other factors. These factors would include the location of the school the child is currently attending, the location of other family members, the location of the child’s health providers including dentist, primary care provider and mental health agency, and other relevant ties of the child to the states in question. The UCCJEA also allows emergency jurisdiction over the child if there are obvious welfare and safety issues. When this happens, we can assume that the court completely eliminates the need for home-state analysis and it will have jurisdiction over the child.


What It Means For Parents Co-Parenting Across Different States


Parents should be well-informed regarding the laws the cover child custody across different states. If you are looking to achieve custody, placement and visitation plans despite co-parenting across different states, you have to be aware that the parent at the home state of the child will enjoy a lot of advantages. There will be an apparent convenience in litigating issues locally. However, the other parent will have to travel several times across different states to appear at court.

his can be taxing on the other parent, but failure to appear in court could mean a huge risk facing default. The home-state parent will also enjoy other privileges during the legal battle for custody and visitation. It will be easier to summon witnesses and testimony from local sources as well as collect the necessary documents. The parent in another state will face a lot of drawbacks. The other parent can enjoy significant leverage when it comes to parenting time and legal decisions.

Your Best Options

In co-parenting across different states, it is also possible to maintain the status quo without a court order. It could be the best option that will prove satisfactory for both sides. At the very least, going for this option can prevent disadvantages brought into the case by the UCCJEA. Even if you need court orders for your co-parenting plans, you must try to negotiate with your co-parent. Agree on as many issues as possible to make it easier and fair for both parties.

It would also be a good idea to seek the guidance of a seasoned family law attorney. The attorney can advise you properly regarding the best ways to approach co-parenting across different states.

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at

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