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Changing and Challenging Jurisdiction in Suits Involving Children

by | Feb 9, 2022 | Firm News

By: Tanisha Taylor, Associate Attorney

If you have moved since your final order, or if you have been served with a lawsuit and notice that has been filed in an area that you or your child no longer live in, you may be wondering how to move the case to the proper court.

For starters, for a case to be filed in a court, the court must have jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is what gives a court the power to make legal decisions. In Texas, The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) and the Texas Family code is what determines which court has jurisdiction over a child custody case.

How do I know if Texas has jurisdiction?

Under the UCCJEA, Texas has jurisdiction over your child custody case if one of the following is true; (1) your child has lived in Texas with a parent or person acting as a parent for six consecutive months immediately before the custody case was filed, (2) Your child lived in Texas within six months immediately before the custody case was filed, and a parent or person acting as a parent continues to live in Texas, or (3) If your child has lived in no other state for six consecutive months before or within six months before the custody case was filed, Texas may have jurisdiction.

How do I know what county in Texas is the proper county?

Under Texas law, you must file your child custody case in the county the child currently lives in or has lived in in the 90 days before filing the custody case was filed.

How do I change or challenge jurisdiction?

Changing or challenging jurisdiction can be very complicated, and fact based. It is best to consult a licensed attorney before you do anything. If you make the mistake of filing the wrong thing, or filing something in the wrong county or state, you could potentially consent to jurisdiction and lose out on your chance to change or challenge jurisdiction.

To challenge jurisdiction, you must file a special appearance in the case. A special appearance tells the court that you are only appearing in the case to challenge jurisdiction and not for any other reason. In your special appearance, you will need to state your reasons why you believe that the court lacks jurisdiction over your custody case. Be prepared to show proof of your child’s present address, your child’s past addresses, and the addresses of you and the other parent.

How to change jurisdiction to a different county or state?

To change jurisdiction to a different county, you will need file a motion to transfer. In your motion to transfer you will need to ask the court the case is currently in to transfer the case into the court that you believe is the proper court. For the case to be transferred you will need to have already filed a case in the proper court, there needs to be a case to transfer into.

Overview

A court must have jurisdiction to make legal decisions. You can look to the UCCJEA or Texas law to determine if a specific Texas court has jurisdiction over your case. If you believe that your case has been filed in a court that does not have jurisdiction, you can file a special appearance. If you would like to move your case from one county to another, you can file a motion to transfer. Whether you file a motion to transfer or a special appearance, you will need to show adequate proof of your child’s past and present residence(s) to the court. Lastly, it is important to remember that every case is different. What may be the proper procedure to follow in one case, may not be in another.

If you still have questions regarding jurisdiction or transferring your case to a different county or State, do not hesitate to call or message our office. We would be happy to discuss your options with you.