What is the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act and Why Might it Matter to my Pennsylvania Case?
We get many questions about the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), especially from parents who move to Pennsylvania or ones who intend on moving to another state. Although it may seem complicated to understand, we will break it down here to the most basic concepts.
What is the UCCJEA?
This is an act that gives exclusive and continuing jurisdiction relating to child custody matters to the courts of the child’s home state. The child’s home state is considered to be the state where the child has lived with a parent for six consecutive months prior to the start of any custody-related proceeding in court or since birth if the child is less than six months old. If a child has not lived in any state for at least six months, then the act says a state which has significant connections with the child and at least one parent and substantial evidence concerning the child’s care, protection, training, and personal relationships can have jurisdiction over child custody litigation.
Why is this Act important?
When parents of children separate and are unable to agree to the legal and physical custody of the children, they usually utilize the court system. In order for a state to be able to make a determination relating to child custody, it must first determine whether it has jurisdiction to hear the matter and make an order relating to it.
Custody orders are always modifiable based on the best interests of the children. The situations of parties can often change from the date an original custody order is entered and there are usually some modifications to custody orders, especially if the children were younger when the original order was entered. If the parents and the children still live in the jurisdiction where the original order was entered, there is no problem as the original court retains jurisdiction in its order. However, if a parent has moved from the jurisdiction, either with or without the children, there can be issues that arise if modification is requested. Typically, the court of original jurisdiction will retain jurisdiction unless relinquishing it. There may be reasons to retain or relinquish jurisdiction.
Child custody modifications in and of themselves can already be complicated legal processes. When multiple states become involved, the process becomes even more complex. Hiring a lawyer familiar with the UCCJEA and all its nuances is essential in order to get the best possible outcome.
Why does the UCCJEA matter in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania has adopted the UCCJEA. In fact, 49 states and several United States territories also adopted the act. So, mostly likely wherever parties move, this act will be applicable to their case.
Contact a Family Law Attorney Today
If you have questions about a current case involving child custody or would like to file a motion to change your child custody order, now is the time to hire an experienced family law attorney. At Bunde & Roberts, P.C., our Pittsburgh child custody attorneys are ready to protect you and your children inside and outside the courtroom.