Brackin Law Firm Logo


Baldwin County, AL

Call Us Now

(251) 943-4040​

The Home State Requirement under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) in Alabama Divorce Litigation


The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) is a critical piece of legislation that helps ensure consistent and fair handling of child custody cases across state lines. In Alabama, as in other states, the UCCJEA governs which state courts have the authority to make initial child custody determinations and to modify existing orders. A central concept within the UCCJEA is the “home state” requirement, which plays a significant role in divorce and post-divorce litigation involving child custody.

Defining the Home State

The UCCJEA defines the “home state” as the state where the child has lived with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least six consecutive months immediately before the commencement of a child custody proceeding. For children younger than six months, the home state is where the child has lived since birth. This definition helps establish which state’s courts have jurisdiction to make initial custody determinations.

Home State Jurisdiction in Alabama

In Alabama, courts look, in part, to the UCCJEA to determine whether they have jurisdiction to make custody decisions in divorce cases. The home state of the child is the primary factor. If Alabama is considered the home state, its courts typically have the authority to decide on custody matters. Sometimes, Alabama has concurrent jurisdiction with other states. In such cases, a more detailed analysis is required.

Initial Child Custody Determinations

Under the UCCJEA, Alabama courts have jurisdiction to make an initial child custody determination if Alabama is the child’s home state at the commencement of the proceeding. This means that if the child has been living in Alabama with a parent for at least six months before the filing of the custody case, Alabama courts can make decisions regarding custody.

Significance in Divorce Cases

In divorce or child custody litigation, establishing the home state is crucial. It ensures that the custody case is heard in a state that has a significant connection to the child. This helps to provide stability and consistency for the child, as the state with the most substantial connection to the child’s daily life will typically make the custody decisions.

Exceptions to the Home State Rule

While the home state rule is the primary basis for jurisdiction, there are exceptions. For instance, if no state qualifies as the home state, or if the home state has declined to exercise jurisdiction because another state is a more appropriate forum, Alabama courts may still have jurisdiction. Additionally, if a child is present in Alabama and has been abandoned or needs emergency protection due to mistreatment or abuse, Alabama courts can exercise temporary emergency jurisdiction.

Modifying Child Custody Orders

The UCCJEA also governs the modification of child custody orders. Generally, the state that made the initial custody determination retains exclusive jurisdiction to modify the order, as long as it remains the home state of the child or one of the parents continues to live there. However, if neither the child nor the parents remain in the state, Alabama courts can assume jurisdiction to modify an out-of-state custody order, provided certain conditions are met.


The home state requirement under the UCCJEA is a fundamental aspect of child custody jurisdiction in Alabama divorce litigation. It helps ensure that custody decisions are made in the state with the most substantial connection to the child, promoting stability and consistency in the child’s life. Understanding this requirement is essential for parents and legal practitioners navigating the complexities of divorce and child custody cases in Alabama.

At Brackin Law Firm we have been litigating interstate child custody matters for decades. Call us today if you need help your divorce or child custody concerns.

call for a consultation

More Articles

Contact Brackin Law Firm Today!

We produce results by getting our clients what they are entitled to receive.

(251) 943-4040

Tell Us About Your Case