Thursday, January 31, 2008

Following Up on "Child Custody: New Interstate Custody case"

I posted a brief post on Lighty v. Lighty (pdf format) as Child Custody: New Interstate Custody case which deals with the Uniform Child Jurisdiction Law (UCCJL). Having read the opinion, I want to expand on my earlier noting of the case.

Father argued that mother had not lived long enough in Indiana for Indiana to have jurisdiction over the dissolution of their marriage. Father relied upon Brokus v. Brokus, 420 N.E.2d 1242 (Ind.Ct. App. 1981) (See How Long Do You Have to Live in Indiana Before Filing a Case? for another reference to Brokus.). The Court of Appeals distinguishes Lighty from Brokus. The Court of Appeals held Mrs. Lighty's petition for custody was properly before the trial court even if she did not meet the residency requirements for a dissolution of her marriage.

What is the key difference between Lighty and Brokus? In Lighty, the child's age apparently made the difference. Here the child was born on October 13, 2006, mother began moving to Kansas on December 20, 2006, and began moving back to Indiana on January 27, 2007.

Determining that Mrs. Lighty's petition for custody was properly before the court, the trial court needed to move onto the interstate jurisdictional question.

The previous post on this case contains a fine condensation of the Court of Appeals' UCCJL holding. In reading the whole opinion, the Indiana Court of Appeals describes the case as one of too much interstate deference between the Indiana and Kansas courts. Calling this a case of too much deference catches the true flavor of the case.

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