All fifty states have enacted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, also known as the UCCJEA. The purpose of the statute is to provide some degree of uniformity for determining which state will have jurisdiction over a child custody/visitation matter. This statute is different from the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, which is concerned with the enforcement of the order. The UCCJEA is concerned with determining which state will have the original jurisdiction.
The New York version of the UCCJEA is found in the Domestic Relations Law Article 5-A. Basically, New York courts will take jurisdiction over a child custody or visitation matter if:
(1) New York is the home state of the child, or the child has been in New York for six months before the commencement of the proceeding; or
(2) Another state court does not have jurisdiction or the home state has declined jurisdiction and the child and at least one parent has a significant connection with New York; or
(3) No other court would have jurisdiction.
Now, let’s put this into English. If the parents reside in New York and the child lives in New York, then clearly a New York court can decide custody and visitation.
But, if Mom and Dad live in Nevada, Dad can’t run to New York in order to get a custody order. The child needs to have lived in New York for at least six months to establish jurisdiction.
If the couple lived in New York, and the mother suddenly moves to Florida, the father should file his petition in New York before the six month clock runs. If he waits until after six months, then Florida would have jurisdiction.