Pittsburgh, PA asked in Divorce, Family Law and Child Custody for Pennsylvania

Q: My partner is trying to divorce her ex husband. He has lived in WA for over a year with their son. Their other..

2 children live with her and I here in PA. PA doesn’t have jurisdiction over her son and WA doesn’t have jurisdiction over her daughters. How can a custody agreement be filed? Does it have to be filed separately for the son in WA and for the daughters here? Should we get an attorney?

1 Lawyer Answer
Peter Christopher Lomtevas
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  • Divorce Lawyer
  • Schenectady, NY
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: This is an expensive mess. Ordinarily, both parties would file their divorce actions in each state and will serve each other in each other's state. Then, a motion for an interim order of custody gets filed in each state and each state's judge will hold a UCCJEA conference to determine which state should take jurisdiction. The accepting state becomes the children's home state, and that should push the negotiations toward settlement as to custody of all children, though if this writer was the Washington judge, the Washington child would remain a Washington child.

Then, despite the outcome of the UCCJEA conference, the parties can then withdraw one action and consent to the jurisdiction of one court and enter into an agreement. However, warring couples will keep the cases going and will spend all their money on litigation which could end up with very bad results for both parties.

This response also compels a discussion of the division of marital assets. Both Pennsylvania and Washington State use the equitable distribution method of property division. However, presumably, few if any assets were accumulated in Washington State given the husband's brief history in Washington. Nonetheless, one court will eventually dismiss one action because only one court can determine divorce, and the husband would be fighting a difficult battle to sustain if he sticks to Washington State.

Clearly, this answer is very superficial, and a consult with an attorney with all the facts is necessary to get a more cogent response.

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