UCCJEA in Parental Relocation and Kidnapping Cases
As families have become more mobile, the chance that a child custody dispute will cross states lines has become much more likely.
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) was designed precisely to give greater guidance to courts throughout the country when parents who live in different states seek child custody orders. It was also designed to make it much harder for parents to engage in “forum shopping” – the practice of strategically seeking child custody orders in jurisdictions that the “shopping” parent believes would be more likely to rule in his or her favor.
Although highly technical, the issue of jurisdiction in child custody cases is extremely important, because a court cannot lawfully issue child custody orders unless it has the legal authority (jurisdiction) to do so. If a court issues a custody order without proper jurisdiction, parents end up with not only a void order, but also a high likelihood of legal problems down the road. To avoid these problems, many parents who are involved in interstate custody disputes (and their lawyers) need an attorney with extensive experience handling such jurisdictional issues. Having dedicated the past several years of my decades-long practice exclusively to cases involving application of the UCCJEA, I have the expertise necessary to make sure that parents and family law attorneys handle jurisdictional issues correctly.
When Does Jurisdiction Play a Role in My Child Custody Case?
Jurisdiction plays a role in every child custody case. However, when a child has lived in just one state since birth and both parents still live in that state, questions of jurisdiction are easily resolved: That state almost always has the authority to issue custody orders for that child.
The analysis becomes much more complex when parents live in different states, or one seeks to relocate to another state. This can happen when one or both parents are in the military, are in another line of work that requires relocation, want to move back where they grew up to be closer to their parents and immediate family, or even in situations where one parent seeks to move with a child as “revenge” on the other parent. In such cases, it will be necessary to establish which state has jurisdiction to issue custody orders. This is where I provide the benefit of my experience and expertise in this complex area of the law.
Learn more about the jurisdictional cases my firm handles by reading my frequently asked questions.
Discuss Your Case or Your Client’s Case in a Consultation
I can serve as co-counsel for family law attorneys throughout the United States from my Milwaukee area office. Call toll free 877-9-UCCJEA or 414-815-0447 in Wisconsin to arrange a consultation. You can also email me directly.