Child custody cases can be difficult enough when both parents live in the same town. The creation of visitation schedules and custody arrangements must still be shaped around where the child goes to school, the work schedules of the parents, and transporting the child between them.
The challenges that are faced in child custody cases are only amplified when the parents live far away from each other, and the complications of negotiating child custody across state lines can be a nightmare.
Creation of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)
The UCCJEA replaces the former Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction act. The main problem with the old law was that it allowed multiple custody orders to be entered in different states, allowing parents who were seeking custody to pick and choose which state was most favorable for them to gain custody of the child.
Hoping to alleviate some of the difficulties with negotiating child custody arrangements across state lines, the Uniform Law Commission (formerly the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State laws) drafted the UCCJEA in 1997. Since its drafting, 49 U.S. states have adopted the uniform law. The only state that has not adopted the legislation is Massachusetts. While many territories of the U.S. have adopted the uniform law, as well, Puerto Rico has failed to do so, causing some problems in the custody case of a Delaware mother. California’s adoption of the UCCJEA can be found here.
What is the Purpose of the UCCJEA?
The UCCJEA seeks to provide a consistent jurisdiction for proceedings related to a child custody case. By providing a uniform jurisdiction (except in the case of emergencies), it makes a more stable life for a child and prevents the child from having to frequently travel back and forth over state lines in the event of a dispute.
What Does the UCCJEA Do?
The UCCJEA seeks to remove the option of parents picking which state to file a claim on by focusing on the home state of the child to determine where custody proceedings should be held. Home state is defined as the place the child lived for at least six consecutive months before any child custody proceeding.
If the child is under six months of age at the time of a custody proceeding, there are special provisions in the UCCJEA that account for this situation. Once a child’s home state is determined, that state has exclusive jurisdiction to hear custody cases regarding that same child moving forward. There are certain times where the home state will not have jurisdiction, either by choice or by necessity, but these types of cases occur less frequently.
Are You Involved in a Custody Dispute?
When a child custody case extends beyond state lines, things can get complicated quickly. Your best bet is to immediately speak with an experienced child custody lawyer to understand your options and help you obtain the best possible outcome.
About The Author:
Hossein Berenji is a divorce and family law attorney in Los Angeles, CA. He handles all family law related matters including divorce, child support, child custody, spousal support, and division of marital assets.