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Who Gets Jurisdiction When Divorced Parents Live in Different States?

Posted on in Child Custody

Who Gets Jurisdiction When Divorced Parents Live in Different States?The term “homecourt advantage” extends beyond the sports world. There is an advantage to having your divorce in a court that is close to where you live. Having to travel to another state for your divorce would be more costly, especially if you need to use litigation to settle your case. Choosing a court for your divorce should not be an issue if you both live near each other. If more than one state can claim jurisdiction for your divorce, the state that hears your case may depend on who files first and the practicality for both sides. Illinois has rules concerning jurisdiction in a parenting case when the two parents live in different states.

Determining Jurisdiction

The Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act says that the home state of the children should have jurisdiction over a parenting case but Illinois can claim jurisdiction if:

  • The children lived in Illinois in the past six months
  • The court of the other state declines jurisdiction
  • The Illinois court determines that it would be most appropriate for the case to be heard in this state

Once you complete a parenting case in Illinois, the state continues to have jurisdiction over future cases as long as at least one of the parents maintains a strong connection to the state. If neither of you lives in Illinois anymore, jurisdiction will transfer to the children’s home state.

Court Discretion

Even in situations where an Illinois court can claim jurisdiction in a parenting case, the judge can decide that the case should be heard in another state’s court that has an equal claim to jurisdiction. Factors that a judge may consider when deciding on jurisdiction include:

  • How long the children lived in each state
  • The comparative financial means of the parents
  • The distance between the two states
  • The location of witnesses and evidence to be used in the case
  • How soon each court could hear and decide on the case

An Illinois judge may cede jurisdiction to another state if that is where the children live or if traveling to Illinois would be too costly for the out-of-state parent. It would be against the child’s best interest to have their parent regularly leave them in order to travel to another state for court appearances.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

You must settle a jurisdiction dispute before you commence with your divorce because every state has its own divorce laws. A St. Charles, Illinois, divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group can make an argument for why your case should be heard here. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.


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