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The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act is necessary because people often don’t remain in one state. When child custody disputes arise between parents, that mobility can impact the case. When parents and children remain in one state, that state had jurisdiction over any child matter that occurs.

It is common, though, for one parent to live in one state and another parent to live in a different state. More than one state could exercise its power to adjudicate a child custody dispute, which doesn’t conclude the dispute, but rather confuses it.

Another issue is that child custody orders are modifiable until the children are 18. Either parent’s circumstances may change and require a change in the custody order. However, if both parties attempt to modify the order in his or her respective states, when which is to be recognized and enforced?

The UCCJA uses four principles for taking over jurisdiction of a child custody dispute. These are:

— The child’s home state

— The connection between the parties and the state

— Emergency jurisdiction when the child’s welfare is threatened and the child is present

— The presence of the child when there is no other state that has sound grounds for assuming jurisdiction

The UCCJEA now supports that child custody disputes will be decided by the “home state” of the child — if there is one. Temporary jurisdiction may be taken to secure the safety of the child; however, the case would then be transferred back to the child’s home state.

If you are currently involved in a child custody matter and the child’s other parent lives in another state, you may be confused as to who can petition the court for a modification. An experienced family law attorney can provide the advice and guidance you need.

Source: Uniform Law Commission, “Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act Summary,” accessed July 13, 2016

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