When Parents Live in Different States

October 27, 2016 | Child Custody, Legal Perspective

Icon for author Todd Begg Todd Begg

In the United States, it is reported that the percentage of marriages that fail is somewhere between 40 and 50 percent.  But married couples are not the only ones who split up and live apart.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provides that 40 percent of all births are to unmarried couples.  Although the CDC does not specifically state how many of the unmarried couples live apart, it is fair to assume not only that many unmarried couples live in separate households, but that in some of these cases, the two parents live in different states.

When the settlers arrived in Pennsylvania, two people met in church, got married, started a family and lived together as a married couple until one of the individuals passed away.  Fast forward to today and residents are part of a global economy with Internet and families that relocate to different states or even different countries to explore education and employment opportunities.

In today’s world, it is not even uncommon for two people in a relationship to live in different locations, where one or both are in the military, or where both individuals live and work in different cities.  Indeed, many people meet their spouses on internet sites where people can connect with other singles from all over the country.  So, what happens to children when their parents living in two different states decide to break off their relationship?

The Home State of the Child

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act provides a starting point for cases with minor children and directs Pittsburgh courts to decide where the child has resided for six months immediately prior to filing a custody case.  This is known as “the home state” of the child and that state becomes the location where child custody proceedings take place.  The Act provides exceptions to the six-month requirement and only an experienced Pittsburgh custody attorney can determine if those exceptions apply to your family situation.

What if No Home State Exists?

Although most children have resided in one place for at least six months, there are cases where there is no “home state:”

  • Military: Military families are almost always moving from one state or country to the next.  When a military couple breaks up, perhaps the children have not yet resided in one location for a period of six months immediately before a child custody case started.
  • Infant Child: A child does not have a “home state” if he or she is less than six months of age.

Where there is no clear-cut location for a “home state,” a court may decide where a child custody case is properly filed by looking at where the child has significant connections or where evidence and witnesses are located.

Contact a Pittsburgh Custody Attorney Today for Assistance

The rules regarding where a child custody case is properly filed are the same regardless of whether you and you partner were married or started a family without a wedding.  An experienced custody lawyer can explain the intricacies of the Uniform Child Custody and Enforcement Act and other Pennsylvania laws that apply to your case.  Contact us today.

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