How Does Child Custody in Louisiana Convert to Texas Laws?
By Heather Frances J.D.
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When couples divorce in Louisiana, the Louisiana court issues an order that describes child custody terms, but those terms may need to change if one or both spouses later wish to move out of state. However, Louisiana’s order and Louisiana state laws continue to govern the couple’s child custody, except under certain circumstances, such as when the new state assumes jurisdiction over the child.
Louisiana does not allow a custodial parent under a custody order to simply pack up and leave the state with the children without either the court’s permission or permission from the noncustodial parent. Instead, Louisiana parents must give notice of a proposed relocation to the other parent at least 60 days before the proposed relocation. The noncustodial parent has 30 days to object to the relocation, and if he does not object during that period, the custodial parent can relocate. If the noncustodial parent does object, the relocating parent has the burden to prove to the court that the proposed relocation is in the child’s best interests and in good faith.
Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act
In 2009, Texas adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, which governs the authority it has over children with custody orders from other states. Under the terms of the UCCJEA, Texas does not have jurisdiction over a Louisiana child custody order, unless Louisiana, which has also adopted the UCCJEA, waives its right to retain jurisdiction as the child’s home state. Texas courts can also exercise jurisdiction over a child’s case if he has continually lived in Texas for at least six months or if he was wrongfully taken into Louisiana from Texas. For example, Texas courts may have jurisdiction to modify the child custody order if neither parent and none of the children still live in Louisiana.
Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act
The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, which applies in every state, does not give Texas authority to change a custody order from Louisiana or “convert” the custody terms of a Louisiana order. However, the PKPA requires state courts to enforce custody orders from other states, so Texas must enforce Louisiana’s custody decisions without changing them until a Texas court decides it has jurisdiction instead of Louisiana and Louisiana gives up jurisdiction.
For Texas to enforce the custody terms of a Louisiana order, a parent must domesticate, or register, the Louisiana order in Texas. This means the Texas courts will enforce the Louisiana order even if they do not have jurisdiction to change it, and Texas will enforce all the terms of the Louisiana order even if a Texas court would have ordered a different custody arrangement had the case been decided in Texas. Registration requires a parent to file a request with the Texas court and at least one certified copy of the Louisiana order.
- U.S. Department of Justice: The Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act
- Divorce Litigation: Relocation of the Custodial Parent: A State-by-State Survey
- Supreme Court of Texas: No. 03-1154
- The Nacol Law Firm P.C.: Interstate Jurisdiction: Child Custody Across State Lines
- Legal Aid of Northwest Texas: Modification of Court Orders
- Texas Department of Family and Protective Services: Section 3: Litigation Essentials
Heather Frances has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been published in law reviews, local newspapers and online. Frances holds a Bachelor of Arts in social studies education from the University of Wyoming and a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School.