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Interstate UCCJEA Custody Cases

Are you in the middle of an interstate dispute with the other parent about which jurisdiction applies in your child custody and child support case? Today, families are mixed and varied. A father may live in one city or another state while the mother lives in another city or another state entirely. These situations can make it difficult when determining which state's rules and laws apply to custody and support. 

At Shakhan & Wilkerson Law, our child custody and child support lawyers know the law and how to handle these delicate cases. We help parents resolve jurisdictional conflicts when it involves the State of Georgia. Contact us either online or call us directly at 404-999-9529 to schedule a consultation.

What is the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act?

Custody orders issued in one state are generally recognized and enforced in another state through the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). The UCCJEA is a uniform law adopted by almost all U.S. states to provide a legal framework for determining which state has jurisdiction in child custody cases and how custody orders from one state can be enforced in another.

The UCCJEA was created to solve the problem of multiple jurisdictions creating and modifying child custody orders. The Act only allows for one state to have the jurisdiction to create and modify any one order. It also addresses how these orders are enforced in other jurisdictions.

General UCCJEA Process in Georgia for Custody Issues

While the UCCJEA has been adopted by almost all states, the exact way to initiate a petition under the UCCJEA may vary. The general process for child custody under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, however, typically involves several steps and considerations.

Initiation of Custody Proceedings

Custody proceedings are typically initiated by filing a petition in the appropriate family court. This can be done as part of a divorce, legitimation, separation case or as a standalone matter.

Child's Home State Determination

The court first determines the child's home state based on the criteria set forth in the UCCJEA, considering factors such as the child's residence and the duration of residence.

If the child has a home state, that state's court has exclusive jurisdiction to make an initial custody determination. The court in the home state becomes the primary forum for addressing custody issues.

In emergency situations, a state where the child is present may assume temporary emergency jurisdiction to address urgent matters, even if it is not the child's home state.

Modification of Custody Orders

If a custody order has already been issued by a court, subsequent modifications are subject to the UCCJEA. The original state generally retains jurisdiction unless certain conditions are met, such as the child and both parents moving to a new state.

Uniform Enforcement of Custody Orders

The UCCJEA provides mechanisms for the enforcement of custody orders across state lines. Once a custody order is issued, it should be recognized and enforced by other states, promoting consistency and stability.

Forum Non Conveniens

If a court determines that it is an inconvenient forum for the case, it may decline jurisdiction, allowing another state to take over the proceedings.

Best Interests of the Child Standard

Throughout the process, the court applies the "best interests of the child" standard to make custody determinations. This standard considers factors such as the child's relationship with each parent, the child's age and preferences, and the ability of each parent to provide a stable and supportive environment.

Home State Determination

The UCCJEA encourages communication and cooperation between states to resolve jurisdictional issues. If a court in one state determines that another state is the more appropriate forum, it may decline jurisdiction in favor of the other state. This helps ensure that custody determinations are made in the state with the closest connections to the child's life.

Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, determining home state jurisdiction involves considering four key bases. These bases help establish which state's court has the authority to make initial child custody determinations.

The four bases for determining home state jurisdiction under the UCCJEA are:

  1. Significant Connections. The child must have a significant connection with the state in question. This connection can be established through factors like the child's residence, the location of family members, and the child's participation in activities within the state.
  2. Substantial Amount of Time. The child must have resided in the state for a substantial amount of time. The UCCJEA does not specify a specific duration for "substantial," but it generally refers to a period that allows the state to have a meaningful connection to the child's life.
  3. Emergency Situations. Even if a state is not the child's home state based on significant connections or substantial time, it may still have jurisdiction in emergency situations. This is particularly relevant when the child is present in the state and is at risk of harm or needs protection.
  4. No Other State Has Jurisdiction. If no other state meets the criteria for home state jurisdiction, a state may assume jurisdiction to make an initial custody determination. This typically occurs when either the child does not have a home state or the home state has declined jurisdiction based on inconvenient forum.

These bases are designed to ensure that the state taking jurisdiction has a meaningful connection to the child and is best positioned to make custody determinations that serve the child's best interests. It also aims to prevent "forum shopping," where a parent might try to initiate custody proceedings in a state that may be more favorable to their case.

Contact a Child Custody Lawyer in Georgia for a UCCJEA Petition

Parties involved in custody proceedings are encouraged to seek legal representation. At Shakhan & Wilkerson Law, our UCCJEA lawyers will help you navigate the complexities of this law, advocate for your interests, and ensure compliance with other related laws and procedures.

Contact us by filling out our online form or calling us directly at 404-999-9529. We will schedule a consultation where our family law attorneys in Georgia will review your family law issues and start resolving problems so that you and your family can move on with your lives accordingly.

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Our law firm proudly serves the Metro Atlanta area including Alpharetta, Marietta, Smyrna, Jonesboro, College Park, East Point, Decatur, Hapeville, Union City, Hampton, McDonough, Stone Mountain, Covington, Conyers, Lawrenceville, Douglasville, Fayette County, Henry County, Clayton County, Gwinnett County, Forsyth County, Cherokee County, Fulton County, Cobb County, as well as Lowndes County, Bibb County, Rockdale County, Newton County, Spalding County, Dougherty County, Douglas County, Muscogee County, and Chatham County.