What factors will a judge consider in deciding whether the new state would be a more convenient forum (place) to hear the case?
In Why might a judge agree to transfer the custody case to my new state?, we listed three reasons why a judge might agree to transfer your case to a new state. The second reason listed is if the judge in the original state believes that the new state is a more “convenient forum.” Here is a list of factors that the judge must consider when deciding if the new state would be a more convenient forum (place) to hear the case:
- whether domestic violence has occurred and is likely to continue in the future and which state could best protect the parties and the child;
- the length of time the child has lived outside of the original state – the longer you have been in the new state, the better;
- the distance between the original state and the new state;
- the relative financial circumstances of the parties – for example, possibly if the other parent is in a better position to handle the costs associated with flying to another state to appear in court, it could weigh in your favor;
- any agreement you and the child’s other parent may have over which state should take power (“jurisdiction”) over the case;
- the nature and location of the evidence that would be required to resolve the litigation – for example, would more witnesses be in the new state?;
- the ability of the court of each state to decide the issue quickly and effectively; and
- how familiar the court of each state is with the facts and issues of your case. If the judge in the original state has handled court cases regarding the child and knows the parties well, it may not make sense to transfer the case to a new judge in a new state.1
We strongly recommend getting the help of a lawyer to figure out if your situation meets the requirements listed. For legal help, go to Finding a Lawyer . The Legal Resource Center on Violence Against Women may be able to assist your attorney to understand the arguments available under the UCCJEA if you are a victim of abuse. Their number is 301-270-1550.
1 UCCJEA § 207