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How does the Uniform Child Custody Act help with modification?

The decision to divorce is not always an easy one to arrive at for parents in New Mexico and elsewhere. When children are involved, divorcing parents attempt to focus on the needs of the children, attempting to meet their best interests in the matter. While all parents want what's best for their children, it can be difficult to memorialize those needs in writing while also meeting the terms of the divorce. Therefore, some parents might need to revisit their child custody agreement, especially if there has been a substantial change in circumstances such as a parent relocating.

How does the Uniform Child Custody Act help with child custody modification? The Uniform Child Custody Act was adopted by every state by 1981 and operates under two principles. First, it establishes jurisdiction over a child custody case in one state. And second, it protects this order from modification in another state so long as the first state retains jurisdiction over the case. Ultimately, this diminishes the chances of a non-custodial parent taking a child to another state and petitioning that state's court for a favorable modification.

This Act is necessary because nowadays Americans are very mobile. There is a heightened chance that a divorced parent will relocate to a different state because of a job offer or major life change. Because circumstances are likely to change from when a child custody order was originally put in place, a court might be required to change it.

When determining what state to place a child in and what state courts have control over the case, courts consider four factors for taking jurisdiction over a child custody dispute. These include the child's home state, significant connections between the states and parties involved in the dispute, emergency jurisdiction when the child is currently present in the state and their welfare is threatened and the presence of a child in a state with no other state having a sound basis for taking jurisdiction.

While it can be difficult to sort through custody issues and disputes, parents have ways to navigate these matters. Therefore, it is important to take the time to fully understand what options are available to a parent during dissolution and post-divorce. This will ensure the rights and interests of those involved are protected.

Source: Uniformlaws.org, "Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act Summary," May 9, 2016

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