UCCJEA: What this statute says about kidnapping children and taking them across state lines

The UCCJEA is a really convoluted statute that has a lot of moving parts. But essentially, the idea is that you can’t just relocate with a child or kidnap a child and think you will get away with it, and think you can haul the other parent in a foreign forum to defend a child

UCCJEA protects against domestic child kidnapping

custody dispute. The child’s homes state has primary jurisdiction over any custody dispute and that is usually determined by the answer to this questions: Where has the child resided continuously for the last six months? That is the state with home state advantage and that is usually the state that has the jurisdiction to hear the case. So, if anything, you would have to wait at least six months after moving to the other jurisdiction to sue your spouse for custody of the child, assuming there has never been any court proceedings and ordersĀ involving the child in any other state. Even then, the new state could decline to exercise jurisdiction on different grounds. First of all, either the old state or new state may be deemed and “inconvenient forum.” Or, the new state is required to defer to the home state because the child still has significant connections to the old state (maybe one of the parents lives there or there are records and documents pertaining to the child still in that old state).
Usually, the home state is the one who calls all the shots. The home state is the one to decline jurisdiction. The homestate is the one who says “my forum is inconvenient” based on the circumstances that exist at the time a proceeding is commenced.
I guess the key thing to remember is that you are not going to win custody just because you took the kids and high-tailed it out of town to a new state or jurisdiction. You may still be bound by the child’s original home state and that state may already have assumed “exclusive” jurisdiction over the child and absent some clearly delineated circumstances, the home state will retain jurisidiction for the duration.
[Now, the UCCJEA can apply between countries in some extenuating cases, I think. Usually the Hague Convention is the treaty that governs country-country custody disputes. But I’ve seen a case in New York where the UCCJEA was applied. See Matter of Krymko v. Krymko, 32 AD 3d 941 (2d Dept. Sept. 19, 2006) (Case No. 2006-02790). It seemed to me that both the UCCJEA and the Hague were applied to justify giving the NY courts jurisdiction in that case….check it out and see what you think.]
If you are simply seeking to modify a court order from the old state, you would have to bring the action in the new state’s courts. But it will depend on whether the courts in the old state relinquish jurisdiction to the new state’s courts (usually they will if the old state is “inconvenient.”) You can’t just modify an order in other words. The two courts would have to communicate to see who has home state jurisdiction and from there, whether the forum is inconvenient and whether there are significant connections to the child – and which state has those connections…
Like I said, this is very confusing….
Okay, so if I’ve totally confused you, check out this pdf. It’s for Georgia, but it still might be relevant in your state since all 50 states adopted the UCCJEA (Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act) It should clarify it a bit.
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