By Matt Allen
A common acronym is mentioned during any dispute involving child custody cases across state lines: UCCJEA.
UCCJEA stands for Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. It’s a set of uniform laws states have enacted that outlines the process of avoiding jurisdictional competition by the courts in matters of child custody and to promote cooperation with all the states and help enforce the court decrees of other states, according to the attorneys at the domestic litigation firm Cordell & Cordell.
Basically, the court that originally determined child custody would retain exclusive and continuing jurisdiction over any and all issues arising out the custody of the child.
Jennifer Paine, a Cordell & Cordell Michigan attorney, said the UCCJEA vests continuing, exclusive jurisdiction for child custody cases in the child’s “home state,” i.e. where the child has lived for six consecutive months prior to commencing the case (or the child’s entire life).
There are cases where the original state may no longer exercise jurisdiction though as part of the “home state” determination under the UCCJEA, said Cordell & Cordell attorney William Halaz.
One of the reasons would be if none of the parties still live in the original state. The original state would also lose jurisdiction if the court determines that neither the child, the child and one parent, nor the child and a person acting as a parent have a significant connection with the original state, and that substantial evidence is no longer available in the original state concerning the child’s care, protection, training, and personal relationships.
Fathers also wonder about paying child support if a child has been emancipated in one state and then moves to another state with a higher age of majority.
But the UCCJEA holds that if the child has already been emancipated in the original state in a court order, the new state may not “un-emancipate” the child, according to Halaz.
If the UCCJEA applies in your case, then the motioning parent may file an action in the children’s current state to request that the prior state’s court relinquish its control to the new state’s court, according to Paine.