Child-Custody Determination – No Home State

Child-Custody Determination – No Home StateChild-Custody Determination – No Home State

A court generally has jurisdiction over a child-custody determination case if that child’s established “home state” is the same as the court. But what if the child has no home state? In other words: the child has not spent enough time living in any state to establish residency.

This is where significant-connection jurisdiction comes into play. In this article, we will define what home state means, how it is established, and what factors must be true for a court to gain jurisdiction over a child-custody determination case.

What do we mean by Home State?

A child’s home state is the state he or she was born in and/or lives. A child must live in a state with a parent, or a person acting as a parent, for six consecutive months before the child-custody suit begins. If a child lived in Texas for four months, California for three months, and four other states for smaller timeframes, none of those states is a home state.

Being able to establish a home state for the child is important in relation to a court’s jurisdiction. Simply put, a court only has jurisdiction to render decisions within the boundaries of its state or county. Without concrete evidence of a home state, the courts must look to other means to establish jurisdiction.

Jurisdiction Factors

If a child has no home state, a Texas court can claim jurisdiction over a child-custody case if all of the following are true:
  • The child hasn’t lived in another state for six months leading up to the child-custody suit
  • The child or parent/guardian still has a significant connection with Texas other than presence (example: child lived in Texas at the time suit was filed)
  • The child’s well being (care, protection, relationships) is better served in Texas
If a child is considered absent from a home state, jurisdiction can be established if all the following are true:
  • Another state is considered the home state, but the child and parents no longer live there
  • The child or parent/guardian still has a significant connection with Texas (example: child lived in Texas at the time suit was filed)
  • The child’s well being (care, protection, relationships) is better served in Texas

In some cases, the home-state court can decline its rightful jurisdiction over a child-custody determination case. If such a thing were to happen, a Texas court could claim jurisdiction if the child and parent have a connection with Texas and the child’s well being is better served in Texas.

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Nelson Law Group, PC has represented people in contested custody cases for over 20 years. We have the knowledge and the experience to help guide you through the complexities that will arise in your case. Give Nelson Law Group, PC a call. Our friendly staff is here to help you in any way we can. For more information about Brett A Nelson, click here.