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Best interests and welfare of the child standard
- primary caretaker
- basic parenting skills and ability to provide basic needs
- physical and mental health of parents
- willingness to promote relationship with noncustodial parent
- continuity of care in child's life
- child's wishes
- presence of domestic violence
Agreements by parties will be given due regard, but are not controlling.
- Race and religion CANNOT be a factor
- Sexual conduct is not a factor unless it will have a negative impact on the child.
- Third parties will not get custody unless parents are unfit, abandoned child, or there are extraordinary circumstances.
- Custody will not be given if parent convicted in first or second murder of parent, guardian, custodian, sibling, half sibling, or step sibling.
Reasonable visitation by parents. Disallowed only where it would seriously endanger child's physical, mental, or emotional health.
Grandparents and siblings have a statutory right to visitation. Grandparents must show a sufficient existing relationship with the child. Special weight must be given to a fit parent's decision to deny a non-parent visitation, including grandparents and siblings
Interference with court-ordered visitation may be remedied through contempt proceedings, leading to a variety of sanctions such as attorney's fees, fines, jail time, etc.
Modification: there must be a change in circumstances for a modification.
Relocation: based mostly on best interests of the child, but also considers other factors, such as parent's constituional right to travel, nature of involvement with child of parent who is not seeking relocation, age and needs of child, child's preference, whether parent seeking to relocate has history of trying to prevent other parent from visitation, any other factors.
Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)
Jurisdiction for initial custody determination: when state is child's home state or was home state in past six months and at least one parent lives there.
Continuing jurisdiction: unitl parties no longer live in the state or child has no significant connection to the state and evidence of any substantial connection is no longer available.
Parental kidnapping prevention act
Permits jurisdiction to be based on a “significant connection” only if the child does not have a home state.
Prioritizes jurisdiction, giving priority to the home state of the child.
Provides that once a state has exercised jurisdiction, the jurisdiction remains with the state until every party to the dispute has exited the state.