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How does the UCCJEA affect child custody arrangements?

Gone are the days of parental abductions across the United States to get an unfavorable order by home state court reversed by the non-home state. Californians know how common the previous problem of parental abduction in the absence of an effective act. But now with Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act in place, chances of confusion related to child custody cases being dragged from home state to another state has been minimized.

The UCCJEA is an improved version of two earlier acts -- the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act and Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act. Unlike the previous two acts, the UCCJEA has been provided the power of enforcing interstate civil enforcement for child custody orders, making it stand apart from its earlier two versions. The main objective of the act is to clearly establish jurisdiction in instances of parents living in different states and to provide rules to discourage competing child custody orders.

Salient features of the UCCJEA could be summarized as follows

  • Home state priority -- in a child custody dispute, the non-home state will defer the case to the home state of the child
  • Temporary emergency jurisdiction -- it may be taken for a brief period to secure the safety of the child if he or she is threatened, and if there is no home state to transfer the case to the home state or another state with another ground for jurisdiction
  • Continuing exclusive jurisdiction -- once jurisdiction over a child custody dispute has been taken, the state will continue to retain jurisdiction until it maintains connection with the parties in dispute or till all parties move away from the state
  • Enforcement of custody and visitation orders -- through continuing exclusive jurisdiction, it empowers a state to enforce a custody or visitation order from another state

It may be a wise idea to consult an able attorney if you are dealing with this kind of situation. An able lawyer handling cases related to divorce, child custody and visitation rights could guide you better on how deal with such issues.

Source: UniformLaws.org, "Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act," Accessed on Jan. 8, 2015

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