Legal Articles


By Chandler Surrency

Time for a confession.  Reality television is one of my guilty pleasures.  And because of my love for reality television, I have spent a lot of time “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.”  So when Tristan Thompson made headlines recently, I was all ears. 

Thompson is a professional basketball player who shares a three-year-old daughter with Khloe Kardashian.  However, he has been in the spotlight recently because he allegedly conceived a child with a different woman, Maralee Nichols, while still in a relationship with Kardashian.  Nichols and Thompson have taken their issues to court, and it appears they could be fighting it out there for a while, but the first issue to be decided is where they will be going to battle.  The child was allegedly conceived in Texas while Nichols lived there.  Since that time, and prior to the birth of the baby, Nichols moved to California.  Accordingly, Nichols filed a child custody case in California.  Thompson then filed a case in Texas, claiming that was the proper state.  So which state has jurisdiction to determine child custody and support issues?

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) is a uniform law that determines which state has jurisdiction in child custody cases.  The UCCJEA has been enacted in 49 states (including Iowa).  Under the UCCJEA, a court only has jurisdiction over a child if that state is the child’s home state.  “Home state” is defined as the state in which a child lived with a parent or guardian for at least six consecutive months immediately before the child custody proceeding commenced.  If the child is less than six months old, then the home state is the state in which the child lived from birth.  There are a few exceptions to the home state rule, but generally a state will not be permitted to make court orders regarding a child if that state is not the child’s home state.

Based on the UCCJEA, California will likely have jurisdiction to make child custody and support orders in the Nichols-Thompson case because the child was born in California and has only ever lived in California.  Texas is unlikely to have jurisdiction because the baby has no connection to that state, and under the UCCJEA it does not matter where the child was conceived.  If you have questions about child custody or support, you should contact an attorney for assistance.