Mixed martial arts star Chuck Liddell went to court in Los Angeles today to seek sole custody of his 12-year-old son. According to TMZ.com, Liddell’s son Cade was visiting from Colorado, where he lives with his mother, Lori Geyer.
In support of his motion to modify custody, Liddell claimed Cade was depressed and upset and did not want to return to Colorado to his mother’s home. Additionally, Liddell claims that Cade lived with a severe toothache for 2 to 3 months while at his mother’s home. Liddell took the boy to a dentist but felt that his health and safety were at risk if he were to return to his mother.
TMZ reported that Liddell’s attorney also alleged that the boy was abused at his mother’s home by being forced to perform physical labor. There was apparently a suggestion that snow removal was part of the forced labor. At first glance, that claim seems a bit weak but, without having seen the full motion or heard arguments of counsel, we’ll withhold judgment on that.
Actually, the California judge withheld judgment too. The judge ruled that the Colorado courts have jurisdiction over custody of Cade and a hearing has been scheduled there on Tuesday.
For every determination of child custody (both for original orders and subsequent modifications), the court must find that it meets the jurisdictional requirements of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). This statute helps determine the proper forum for custody disputes if there is more than one state with an interest in the litigation.
Generally, the state that issued the initial custody order continues to have jurisdiction over that order for modification purposes. However, another state’s court might be allowed to modify the original order if neither the child nor a parent have a continued significant connection to the original state (i.e., they’ve moved away) or that state’s forum is more convenient that the original state’s forum for litigation. Apparently in this case, the state of Colorado has more significant connection to Cade’s custody.