In Which State Can I File For Custody?

Living in this area, many people are confused about which state is the correct forum to resolve custody disputes.  Many families have one parent living in Virginia and one parent living in DC.  So where do you file?

Generally, a state has jurisdiction over a custody matter if it is the home state of the child.

In D.C., this is governed by D.C. Code Section 16-4602.01.  The statute explains that there are several ways DC can make a custody determination. They are: (1) DC is the home state of the child, or was the home state within the last 6 months, but one parent continues to live in DC, (2) another state does not have jurisdiction; or has declined to exercise jurisdiction because DC is the more appropriate forum, and there is a significant connection with DC and substantial evidence is available in DC, (3) all other courts having jurisdiction have declined jurisdiction on the basis that DC is the more appropriate forum, or (4) no other court would have jurisdiction.

In Virginia, the law is the same, and outlined in Virginia Code Section 20-146.12.

It’s very important to file in the correct state, or your complaint will be dismissed. If you need assistance, contact an attorney experienced in family law and custody disputes.

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