What Is the UCCJEA?

A mother and her two small children sit on a bench on a wooded path

Child custody determinations are incredibly difficult to navigate when both parties are present and living in the same state. But what happens if one parent lives in a different state, or even across the country? And which state’s court is responsible for handling a divorced couple’s future custody and visitation disputes?

The purpose of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) is to address which state has jurisdiction in child custody matters. This includes issues pertaining to:

  • Initial custody determinations
  • Exclusive and continuing jurisdiction
  • Child custody modifications
  • Emergency orders

It’s not unusual for a divorcee to move out-of-state for work or to pursue different life opportunities. However, most parents don’t want to compromise when it comes to spending time with their children. They may be living out of state, but they still want a reasonable visitation schedule.

Initial Custody Determinations

Per the UCCJEA, several factors need to be evaluated before one state can claim jurisdiction over a child custody case. When a divorcing couple needs an initial custody determination, they need to turn to whichever state their child has lived in for the past 6 years. If their child is under 6 months of age, then the jurisdiction will fall to the state their child was born in. However, if neither state can claim jurisdiction, then the courts need to evaluate if the child has any significant familial connections in a certain state.

Regardless, it’s important to discuss your case with a qualified divorce attorney before filing for divorce or attempting to negotiate child custody. There are many nuances and exceptions associated with this policy, and only an experienced lawyer can successfully guide you through each step of this difficult legal process.

Requesting a Child Custody Modification

Only the state that has claimed jurisdiction can modify a custody order. The only exception is if the original state determines that it no longer has authority and agrees to transfer jurisdiction to a different state. This provision of the UCCJEA is intended to prevent parents from appealing child custody decisions in different states.

Explore Your Legal Options

If you’re struggling to settle a child custody matter with your former spouse, contact the Florida child custody lawyers at The Virga Law Firm, P.A. Our experienced legal team can evaluate your case, explain your legal options, and, if necessary, negotiate or litigate in court on your behalf. With our help, you can protect your child’s best interests and start the next chapter of your life with a reasonable child custody arrangement or modification.

We’re available 24/7! Contact the Virga Law Firm, P.A. at (800) 822-5170 to schedule a consultation.

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