Florida’s population has one of the fastest growth rates in the country, and seven metro areas in the state are among the top 50 nationwide with the greatest amount of population gain. With that many people moving to the state, some are bound to be divorced single parents with custody orders issued by another state’s court. If a parent new to Florida has issues with visitation or other child custody questions that requires court intervention, which court has jurisdiction over the matter – the court that originally decided child custody matters, or the court in the parent’s new resident state? Florida anticipated this scenario and adopted a law, The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, which aims to reduce the likelihood of conflict between courts of different states on child custody issues that could otherwise result in shifting a child back and forth to the child’s detriment. If you are a divorced single parent that recently relocated to Florida, it is important to know when or if a court in this state can hear a petition on child-related issues. The following includes a review of the legal requirements to transfer jurisdiction to your new state, including an outline of information you must submit via affidavit to the court when you file a custody petition.
Transferring Jurisdiction to Florida Courts
Under Florida law, a court will have jurisdiction over a child custody case if the child’s home state is Florida. In order to establish Florida as the home state, the child must live in Florida for at least six months before a child custody petition is filed, or be born in Florida if the child less than six months old. Determining the child’s home state is key to knowing which court has the authority to hear your case. If it is determined another state was the child’s original home state, Florida cannot consider your case until you show the child and at least one parent or guardian no longer live in the original home state, and instead, now reside in Florida.
Additionally, Florida will have jurisdiction in cases where the court in the original home state declines to hear a case because it considers Florida a “more appropriate forum” and the child and at least one parent or guardian lives in and has a substantial connection to Florida. You must also show there is significant information in Florida related to the child’s “care, protection, training, and personal relationships.”
Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act Affidavit
Any time a petition is filed in a court in Florida on a matter related to child custody, visitation or time-sharing a sworn affidavit must be included that provides information on the child(ren) and the parents. This affidavit is required even if the issues are not in dispute. Because this document is an affidavit, it must be signed before a notary public, and the person signing it must certify the information contained in it is true and accurate. If it is later determined the information was not truthful, the person who certified the document could be fined and/or imprisoned. The affidavit asks for the names, dates of birth, place of birth and locations the child(ren) lived for the past five years involved in the petition you want to file. Further, you need to include the names, addresses and relationship of each adult who lived with the child(ren) over the previous five years.
In addition to biographical information, the affidavit requires you to disclose if you participated in a previous proceeding related to custody, visitation or time-sharing that included the child(ren) involved in the present case even if the earlier case was also decided by a Florida court. Additional disclosures of information requested in the affidavit include: whether you know of anyone else not involved in the present proceeding that has a claim of custody or other child matters over a child in the current case; and if there are any past or pending child support cases in another jurisdiction.
Moving to a new state as a single parent is a big decision, and sharing custody with an ex-spouse located in another state can complicate things, but there is help. The South Florida Stok Kon + Braverman. has extensive experience in child custody matters and offers confidential consultations to assist with life’s big transitions.