Missouri parents who have physical custody of their children following divorces might move to different states for job purposes, to be closer to senior family members or other reasons. If the parents want to modify their custody orders for any reason, they generally have to return to Missouri, where the orders were issued. However, Missouri judges could send the cases to the new states under certain circumstances.
Prior to deciding whether the modification of a child custody order should be transferred to a new state of residence, a judge has several factors to consider. One of the considerations is if domestic violence is involved and likely to continue. In such an instance, the judge will determine which jurisdiction would be the best forum to serve the best interests of the children. Another factor is the amount of time the children have lived in the new state, as the judge is more likely to approve the transfer if several years have passed.
The judge must also consider how familiar a new judge in a new state is with the issues and facts involved in the custody case. For instance, if the original judge knows the parties and children well from handling the case before, it might not be sensible to transfer the matter. The location and nature of any evidence required to modify the order, such as the location of witnesses, are also factors. Furthermore, the judge has to weigh other factors, including the ability of each court to resolve the modification effectively and efficiently, the distance between each state and whether the parents have a prior agreement on which state should have jurisdiction.
While these factors are taken into account by judges, they may not be so clear to parents who are trying to determine if their cases qualify for a transfer. Prior to making the requests, the parents could talk to their attorneys about whether their situations meet the requirements.