Q) In which state do I file for custody?
A) It depends. Only one state’s court will have jurisdiction, or the power to hear your case. Custody jurisdiction is state law. However, most states have adopted a law called the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). New Jersey has recently adopted the UCCJEA. Under the UCCJEA, you can only file for custody in the “home state” of the child. The “home state” is typically the state where your child has lived with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least six consecutive months. If your child is less than 6 months old, then your child’s home state is the state where s/he has lived since birth. Leaving the state for a short period of time, such as going on vacation, does not change your child’s home state. If you and your child recently moved to a new state, generally you cannot file for custody in that new state until you have lived there for at least six months. Until then, you or the other parent can start a custody action in the state where your child has most recently lived for at least 6 months. Please be advised that there are exceptions to this rule.
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