What it means, what it’s for, and how it can protect your family.
What it means: The letters UCCJEA stand for Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. In 1997, due to frequent misuse of parents trying to avoid custody determinations by moving from state to state or even leaving the country, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws put together the UCCJEA to help prevent parents from using unlawful conduct in child custody disputes. The UCCJEA sets forth a set of rules and procedures for interstate and international custody battles. Each state has a section of their state statutes regarding what is in the “best interest” of minor children, describing in detail the purpose, scope, and procedural directions of the UCCJEA. The act itself is lengthy and can be read in its entirety by visiting http://www.lrcvaw.org/laws/fluccjea.pdf
Here it should be noted that in the event you find yourself dealing with an interstate or international custody problem it is imperative you find an experienced Family Law attorney to help you. Attorney Grant Gisondo who practices in West Palm Beach and serves Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Miami-Dade, Broward, Orange, and Hillsborough counties is an experienced Family Law attorney who can provide the representation you need. He offers a free, initial, in-office consultation where he will meet with you personally to answer questions and share with you how he can help. You can call his office at (561) 530-4568 to make an appointment.
What it’s for: To help put the UCCJEA in perspective, the following list of purposes is quoted from Florida Statute 61.501 section 61.592.
- “Avoid jurisdictional competition and conflict with courts of other states in matters of child custody, which have in the past resulted in the shifting of children from state to state with harmful effects on their well-being.
- Promote cooperation with the courts of other states to the end that a custody decree is rendered in the state that can best decide the case in the interest of the child.
- Discourage the use of the interstate system for continuing controversies over child custody.
- Deter abductions
- Avoid relitigating the custody decrees of other states.
- Facilitate the enforcement of custody decrees of other states.
- Promote and expand the exchange of information and other forms of mutual assistance between courts of this state and those of other states concerned with the same child.
- Make uniform the law with respect to the subject of this part among the states enacting it.”
In addition to interstate custody concerns, the UCCJEA sets forth rules and procedures for such child custody issues as:
- For Native American children
- How to determine which state has the jurisdictional rights over the child
- Ordering the physical appearance of a parent with or without the child
- Creating a temporary court ordered visitation schedule if the child has none
- Requiring certain information (unless the person has legal reason for confidentiality) including name, address, all litigation concerning the child, and where and with whom the child has been living for the past 5 years.
Furthermore, the UCCJEA provides rules for international custody disputes. For example, enforcement under the Hague Convention allows a court in Florida to enforce an order for the return of a child via International Child Abduction as if it were a child custody determination. What appropriate costs, fees, and expenses can be awarded are also a part of the UCCJEA Florida statute.
How it can protect your family: First and foremost the UCCJEA makes abducting a child across state lines or out of the country much more difficult. It allows the court to serve a warrant to immediately take custody of a child who is likely to suffer serious physical harm or removal from the state. Over all, while by no means a 100% guarantee interstate and international battles over child custody will end, the UCCJEA goes a long way to promoting a fair and beneficial child custody decision when states and hopefully, foreign countries cooperate.