Q: I want to modify my final custody order but I have moved to a new state. Can I have the order modified in new state?
Custody order was finalized in Florida, but I now live in Arizona. I want to modify my custody order here (Phoenix). Is it possible to modify it here without having to go to the originating state where the order was set?
The statute you are dealing with is called the UCCJEA. "U" stands for "uniform" because it has been adopted by all 50 states so that child custody and jurisdiction is (theoretically) handled the same regardless of which state the child is in. The state that has jurisdiction is the state where the child has lived for the six months before the action to modify is filed UNLESS there is an existing order issued in another state and the child or one of the parents remains in that state. If your ex stayed behind in Florida, you must modify in Florida. There could be an inconvenient forum argument, but litigating UCCJEA disputes costs thousands and thousands of dollars. Your money would be better spent just hiring a Florida lawyer and attempting to modify there.
If everyone now lives in Arizona, that makes things less complicated. You can file to have Arizona recognized the existing Order and then file a petition to modify that Order. You will need to make sure the child has lived in Arizona for at least six months to qualify.
I hope that helps. UCCJEA issues are complicated and there are many judges who do not fully understand how interstate conflicts work.
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