November 17, 2007

Out of State: Can Oregon modify my custody judgment?

We already blogged about whether Oregon has the power to make an initial custody determination. (See the post) But what if you already have a custody judgment from another state? Can Oregon modify it? What if your ex moves to another state after the case and files to modify custody in the new state? What if your ex tries to keep the kids at the end of summer parenting time and files to modify custody in the foreign state? To make these decision, Oregon looks to the “Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction And Enforcement Act.” (UCCJEA) ORS 109.700 et seq.

To determine if Oregon has the power to make the first custody determination the Oregon court goes through the following analysis:

(1) Is it our order? If Oregon issued the original custody determination, then Oregon can modify it unless Oregon has lost significant connections with the child and a parental figure or unless there is better evidence regarding the child in another state, or no parental figure or the child reside in Oregon.

(2) Is the order from another state? If Oregon did not issue the original custody determination, than the issuing state has jurisdiction unless the issuing state declines jurisdiction or determines it is not a convenient forum, or Oregon or the issuing state determine that the child and parental figure no longer reside in the issuing state.

If you want Oregon to modify your custody judgment or decree and it was issued in another state, you should consult with a lawyer about the right place to file. A bad decision on where to file by either parent can land one in trouble with the court, and have you funding two lawyers in different states. If you are responding to a filing in a foreign state and you think the matter should be in Oregon, you should consult with a lawyer. The foreign court could take the wrong type of response as consent to their jurisdiction!