If you and your spouse have children, but are already separated and living in different states, you may think you can each file for custody of your children in your current state of residence. However, this is not the case at all. Almost every state (including Minnesota) follows the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, which means you’re only allowed to file custody actions in the child’s home state — the state in which the child has lived for the last six months.
Distance does not necessarily determine the type of parenting relationship you will have with your child. It’s common to continue to share joint legal custody even if the parents live in different states. However, the distance can make it very difficult or impossible for parents to have joint physical custody, especially if the children are already in school and entrenched in their communities.
Therefore, if you live in a different state than your kids, your spouse will most likely receive sole physical custody (assuming he or she is determined to be fit for parenthood by the courts), with you having visitation rights.
The situations in which you would seek a modified arrangement, however, are still the same. If, for example, it becomes clear that one parent is clearly unfit for parenthood, the other parent could take full custody — regardless of how far away they live. All modifications to a child custody arrangement must be made in the state that initially issued the custody order unless the parties and the children no long reside in that state575.
To learn more about custody arrangements for divorced parents who live far apart, contact a knowledgeable Minnesota child custody attorney with Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A.
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