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When do Florida courts have jurisdiction over child custody cases? P.1

In previous posts, we’ve been looking at a Florida custody case in which a Florida court overturned a Michigan decision and ended up issuing a decision in favor of the other parent, the mother. In this case, the complexity was largely due to the mother’s relocation with the children to Florida and the subsequent sorting out which state had jurisdiction over the case.

Under the Florida Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, a couple requirements must be met for Florida courts to have jurisdiction to make an initial decision in a child custody case. First, the state of Florida must be the home state of the child on the day the proceeding beings. 

If the child is not living in the state of Florida when the custody proceeding begins but a parent or caretaker continues to live in Florida, the child must have had Florida for his or her home state within six month before the proceeding began, otherwise a Florida court does not have initial jurisdiction. In order to have Florida as a home state, a child must have a significant connection to the state other than mere physical presence.

A Florida court which has made a child custody decision based on initial jurisdiction of the case has what is called, “exclusive, continuing” jurisdiction, meaning that no other courts may handle the case. This jurisdiction continues until a Florida court determines that a party in the case does not have a significant connection with the sate and that there is no longer substantial evidence of the child’s care, protect, training and personal relationships in Florida, or until a court in either Florida or another state determines that a party involved in the case do not presently live in Florida.

In our next post, we’ll look briefly at what the Florida law has to say about jurisdiction for modifying child custody orders, and how an experienced attorney can help resolve jurisdictional issues in child custody cases.

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