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When can a Minnesota court decide interstate child custody?

When Minnesota divorced parents live in different states, there may be an issue as to which state has jurisdiction over a child custody dispute. The resolution of this question will ordinarily be decided by application of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJA). Almost every state, including Minnesota, has enacted the UCCJA.

Under the UCCJA, Minnesota will have jurisdiction to decide a custody matter when any of four tests is satisfied. First, a Minnesota court can decide the matter if Minnesota was the home state of the child when the court proceeding was commenced, or was the child's home state within the six-month period prior to commencement and a parent or guardian still lives in Minnesota.

Second, a Minnesota court will have child custody jurisdiction, if the other state does not have jurisdiction or has declined to exercise it. There are significant connections between the child, at least one parent and Minnesota. And, there is substantial evidence in Minnesota pertaining to the custody issue.

Third, Minnesota can exercise jurisdiction, if the other state has declined jurisdiction on the ground that Minnesota is the more appropriate state to decide the issue. Finally, Minnesota will have jurisdiction if no other state can exercise jurisdiction under the tests set out above.

These tests apply to an initial determination of custody. If a Minnesota court is asked to modify another state's custody order, Minnesota must satisfy at least one of the four tests and the other state must also have decided it no longer has jurisdiction or that Minnesota would be a more appropriate forum.

Source:, "Minn. Stat. § 518D.201," accessed on Jan. 30, 2016

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