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Taking Custody Across State Lines

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) has been adopted by Wisconsin and 48 other states. The UCCJEA provides rules to determine which state has jurisdiction over a family law matter and enforcement of family law orders. Actions related to child custody in Wisconsin must comply with the UCCJEA. Some of the most important matters covered by the UCCJEA are determining where there is jurisdiction to begin and continue a family law matter.
Navigating how your custody and placement order will be affected by moving into a new state can be difficult. Consulting with an attorney is an important first step to making changes to your current custody and placement order.


A Wisconsin court may only modify a child custody order of another state when Wisconsin has jurisdiction to make an initial custody determination and at least one of the following is true: (1) The court in the state which made the child custody order determines that it no longer has exclusive, continuing jurisdiction; or that Wisconsin would be a more convenient forum; or (2) the Wisconsin court determines that the child, the child’s parents, and all persons acting as parents do not presently reside in the other state.
Unless the out-of-state court that made the initial custody order no longer has jurisdiction, or that state is declining to exercise jurisdiction, Wisconsin courts cannot modify the out-of-state custody order.


The legal standards for changing which state has jurisdiction are complex. There are several factors the Court will consider prior to determining that the state is inconvenient to hear the family law matter. These factors include: the existence of domestic violence; the length of time the child has resided outside the state of initial jurisdiction; the distance between the states involved; the financial circumstances of the parties; any agreement of the parties; the nature and location of the evidence in the dispute; how quickly the court could address the matter; and the familiarity of the court of each state with the matter.
Whether you agree with changing the jurisdiction or not, it will be important to have your point of view expressed to the Court by an attorney.
The state that has jurisdiction over your family law issues can have a tremendous impact on the outcome of your case. Our attorneys are ready to represent you at every stage of your case.
Our firm is known for exceptional service and courtroom success. We have helped thousands of clients with legal issues that could change their entire lives. Because of the personal nature of family law issues, we will maintain an open line of communication with you at all times. You will always be informed about what comes next in your case.