The reasons for going before another court are not always nefarious though. Over time, life circumstances change and parents and/or children move to other states. Because of the complexities and potential abuses of the legal system when multiple states are involved, the states had to develop a set of laws for clarity.
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act
Jurisdiction is Latin for “to speak the law.” In order for a court to enter valid, enforceable orders, it must have jurisdiction over the subject of the lawsuit as well as jurisdiction over the people in the lawsuit. Otherwise, any order entered is not a legitimate order. When it comes to child custody orders, jurisdiction is a really big deal. Imagine paying lawyers and going through months and months of legal proceedings only to get an order that isn’t even valid. This becomes an even more significant consideration when there are multiple states involved.
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act, or UCCJEA, is a set of uniform laws that have been adopted by every state except for Massachusetts. It addresses which court has jurisdiction over a child custody suit when multiple states are involved. The purpose is to provide uniformity and predictability, while preventing unscrupulous parents from running with the children to seek advantageous custody orders from another state.
Essentially, the UCCJEA covers numerous issues, such as what state’s court has jurisdiction to enter an “initial custody order”in a situation where no prior order has been entered regarding that child. This determination revolves around the child’s “home state” or where the child has lived for at least six months preceding the filing of the lawsuit. Another important issue that the UCCJEA addresses is what court has “continuing” jurisdiction over a case, and the circumstances in which another court can take over that jurisdiction from the court of another state. Finally, the UCCJEA also encompasses temporary emergency jurisdiction and enter orders to protect children from circumstances such as abuse, neglect, or parental kidnapping.
New Direction Family Law
Interstate child custody matters are intricate and complex. Failure to obtain orders from a court with competent jurisdiction can be expensive, and worse, result in child custody orders that mean nothing. At New Direction Family Law, we understand the law and pride ourselves in getting things right. Your future and peace of mind are important to us, let us help you. Call New Direction Family Law at (919) 719-3470 to schedule a consultation or reach us online through our website.
Sarah J. Hink
New Direction Family Law