Interstate child custody cases often arise in family law matters

Child custody cases in Georgia sometimes take on an interstate aspect. That is a family law issue that is raised where parents living in different states are fighting for custody of their children. There is an issue over which state should assert jurisdiction and decide the custody matter. It is generally held that the state representing the "home state" of the children is the state that should assert jurisdiction. That is not always that easy to decide, and so there are many permeations of the interstate child custody case law.

This is the setting for a recent case in which the grandparents of a child are seeking custody from the mother who lives in another state with the child. The court of the state where the mother resides assumed jurisdiction and ruled that the mother deserved custody. The grandparents appealed and the appellate court in that state affirmed custody in the mother, holding that the family law court properly exerted jurisdiction as opposed to the state where the grandparents live.

The history of the case is that the natural parents of the child had moved to Oklahoma with their son. While there they often called upon the father's parents to take care of the child. The couple returned to Indiana, but they called upon the grandparents to periodically continue to care for the child in their state. The couple then filed for divorce and the father returned to his state, with the child remaining with the mother in Indiana

Although there was some question over whether either state qualified as the home state of the child, as defined in the Interstate Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, the mother's state assumed jurisdiction under the statute. It awarded custody to the mother, and as indicated, the appellate court affirmed the decision -- including on the issue of jurisdiction. The appellate court approved of the lower court's reliance on the mother's gainful employment, clean drug test and other progress in her life. Family law decisions like this one are also litigated in Georgia, where decisions are similarly based on the statute and the equities of the case.

Source: theindianalawyer.com, "Decision upheld in Oklahoma-Indiana custody dispute", Olivia Covington, Jan. 25, 2018

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