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Understanding the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act or PKPA

Law Office of Tad Davis Jan. 20, 2018

Co-parenting is tough, but doing so across state lines can be even more difficult. To ensure parents did not violate child custody court orders of other states, Congress passed the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (“PKPA”) in 1980. Nearly 40 years later, this federal law continues to impact child custody arrangements today. Read more to find out how the PKPA can impact your custody arrangement if your former spouse lives in a different state.

What Does the PKPA Do?

The primary purpose of the PKPA is to limit parents’ ability to seek alternative custody determinations when a custody order is already in place in another state. For example, a father living in Oregon cannot seek a new or separate child custody order if one is already active in Arizona. The PKPA requires parents to follow existing court orders and prevents courts in other states from implementing conflicting orders. If state B issues a child custody order after state A’s order, the order issued in state B would not be enforceable in any state.

Six-Month Requirement

Another hallmark of the PKPA is that it gives preference to a child’s home state—meaning that a court order should be issued where the child has lived for the past six months. This prevents parents from seeking custody orders in states they have no relation to.

How Does the PKPA Affect My Arizona Custody Dispute?

The most important way the PKPA will impact your Arizona dispute is that it will prevent you from initiating a brand new custody matter in an Arizona court if an order is already in existence in another state. If you need a modification of your out-of-state custody order, you will need to first register the out-of-state order with an Arizona court. Without following the proper procedure, the Arizona order will not be enforceable. To register your child custody order in Arizona, you must follow a complex procedure, and may only do so under certain circumstances. For example, the child must live in Arizona or must be living in Arizona in the near future. And, the parent remaining out-of-state must either transfer the order to Arizona or also reside in Arizona in order to register an order. Registering an out-of-state order also requires that the out-of-state parent receive notice of the registration.

Contact Us!

A number of federal statutes impact your out-of-state custody case, and it’s important you consult with an experienced Arizona child custody attorney to ensure all steps are properly followed. The experienced team of legal professionals at Ted Davis can help. Contact us today for help with your case.