Live in VA, and have with daughter since March 2000. Filed for custody in VA in July 2000. spouse resides in IL and was served court papers properly. Court date for VA custody was Oct 2000. I won custody, but spouse did not show. He filed for divorce in IL in late Aug 2000, whereas he included custody wants in decree. Have been fighting in IL thru attorney and now have to make an appearance for hearing in MAY 2001. I do not have money or resources to afford to go to IL or to fight any longer. Have had several court dates whereas judge has requested information in order to establish if jurisdiction in VA was warrented. All information has been given to prove my side, judge has spoken to the VA judge that presided over case, yet still will not rule because other side will not settle. I am now tied up in courts there and feel they are going to overturn jurisdiction. Do they have a legal basis to do this even though VA has already assumed jurisdiction? Can I legally get out of the court system in IL? I was told if I don't show for May hearing, I will lose and have to go thru appeals systems and start all over. HELP!
2 Answers from Attorneys
Re: Overturning Jurisdiction
It sounds like you still have the jurisdiction question open in Illinois. That needs to be settled, probably in Illinois.
You could challenge Illinois jurisdiction if and when your spouse comes to Virginia to try and enforce an order entered in Illinois. However, if you have done anything, e.g., filing pleadings acknowledging jurisdiction on this question in Illinois through your attorney. Further, if the Virginia judge has indicated an inclination to concede jurisdiction to Illinois, it would definitely be an uphill battle then.
Almost certainly the best thing to do is suck up the cost and fight jurisdiction in Illinois. Remember, even if Illinois asserts jurisdiction, that is only half the battle. You could win the other half. Additionally, there may be some, and I emphasize "some", chance of successfully challenging Illinois' jurisdiction in Virginia.
Re: Overturning Jurisdiction
The Uniforn Child Custody Jurisdiction Act(UCCJA)
should govern the outcome of this scenario, and it
would appear that the two courts are in fact working to apply it in your case as evidenced by the communucation and, presumably, the cooperation
which you have described.
Be patient, and eventually you should be able
to prevail with the court in Illinois in getting them to concede custody jurisdiction to Virginia.
If the facts are as you state, and have been accurately communicated to the Illinois court along with any other requested information, that
court in correctly applying the UCCJA should rule in your favor. That is, unless there are other facts which you haven't disclosed which would adversely reflect upon your fitness as a custodial parent or other factors which would favor the best interests of the child as being with the father in Illinois.
Nine to twelve months, or even longer, is not unusual in terms of time to resolve these kinds of
multi-jurisdictional custody disputes.
If you are unable to attend the hearing in Illinois scheduled for this May, you should detail the reasons why you cannot in a letter
to your Illinois attorney with a copy to the court. I would also attach a copy of the Virginia custody order for good measure. MH