Whether you just moved to Washington or you are thinking about moving out of the state, it could impact your child custody matters. When you file a custody case, you need to understand which court has jurisdiction or legal ability to make decisions in the case.
Washington law outlines when a court within the state has the right to hear custody cases.
Generally, if the child lives in Washington or has lived in the state within the last six months, the custody issues fall under the state’s jurisdiction. The location of the parents may also play a role. If during a custody matter, the child leaves the state, but a parent remains in the state, then Washington retains jurisdiction.
There is an exception if another state could make a claim of having the right to hear the matter. However, in these cases, the other state might waive jurisdiction rights, which would mean the case belongs to a Washington state court.
Another state may claim jurisdiction if one parent has a residence there or other significant connections to that state. For example, if you and the child’s other parent had moved to Washington together, but your home state is Ohio, and all your family lives in Ohio, then there might be a chance that an Ohio court could claim jurisdiction.
It is important to note that in order for a court to hear a matter, it must solidify jurisdiction. If there are any issues, it could slow down your case.