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Jesse James, Child Custody and the UCCJEA

Jesse James' child custody case is being moved to Hays County, Texas, as requested by James nearly a year ago. An Orange County Superior Court Judge issued the order to relinquish jurisdiction on September 22, 2011.

Transferring jurisdiction of a child custody order across state lines can be complicated, as any Dallas child custody attorney would tell you.

Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), a child's home state, or the state where the child has lived for at least six consecutive months, has jurisdiction over child custody proceedings. In cases where the child has not lived in a state for six consecutive months, the state that has jurisdiction over child custody litigation is the state with "significant connections" to the child and one parent and where there is substantial evidence concerning the child in the state.

A court retains jurisdiction until it loses significant connection to the child or the child and the child's parents no longer live in the state.

In Jesse James' case, the argument for change in jurisdiction was clear. The Orange County court originally had jurisdiction because James lived in Sunset Beach at the time of the initial child custody case. However, he now lives in Austin, Texas, where he has primary custody of his daughter, 7-year old Sunny. Meanwhile, Sunny's mother, Janine Lindemulder, lives in Oregon. Both parents and the child now live outside of California. Furthermore, Texas is Sunny's home state, since she has resided there for at least six consecutive months.

Visitation arrangements allow Lindemulder one week per month of visitation with Sunny. All other child custody issues have also been decided already. Why, then, did Jesse James request a change in child custody jurisdiction? Like other family law issues, child custody can change over time. If James or Lindemulder request a modification of child custody or visitation arrangements, they must now do so in the Hays County, Texas, court system.

While the child custody and other family law issues faced by celebrities are interesting, many more families are faced with similar issues that never make the news. Whether you are a Houston mother hoping to move your children to another state or an out-of-state father planning on moving to Texas, turn to an experienced child custody lawyer to learn more about the UCCJEA and interstate child custody jurisdiction.

Source: KTTV Fox 11, "Jesse James' Child Custody Case Moved to Texas," Sept. 22, 2011.

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