18 FAMILY ADVOCATE www.shopaba.org
good, but they are also intolerant of your explanations. What
do you want to pound into their heads?
If they don’t walk away with these questions, and respons-
es, hardwired, make Jr. pay for lunch—and order a top-shelf
martini before you close out the tab.
en take the ow charts from this article and place them
near their phone alongside the UIFSA ow charts from the
Spring 2017 issue of Family Advocate. Uniform Laws for
Family Law, 39 Fam. Adv., no. 4, Spring 2017, at 12, 14.
Family law jurisdiction appears complex. It seems that way
because dierent aspects of a family law case nd jurisdictional
support in dierent places. Here, we are discussing child-custo-
dy jurisdiction; there, we discuss family support jurisdiction.
In each, specic jurisdictional rules result in dierent jurisdic-
tional criteria. Traditional notions of jurisdiction simply don’t
apply. One would expect that if you have jurisdiction over the
parents, then you have control over all aspects of the case. Not
so! When jurisdiction is wrongly applied, cases became chaotic,
with parties (not only a mom and a dad) getting contradictory
orders from one state or another.
On a personal level, if you try to apply the wrong
jurisdictional decision and lead the case in the wrong way,
you might be accused of malpractice.
Family law has those two unique jurisdictional subtopics:
child custody and child support. ere are other jurisdic-
tional considerations, such as the status of marriage, property
division, and choice of law relating to any contracts the
parties are engaged in—we’re all familiar with the common
law. But these two—child support and child custody—don’t
follow common law standards.
The UCCJEA’s Applicability
e UCCJEA applies to all “child-custody proceedings.”
Such proceedings are dened under the Act as:
...a proceeding for divorce, separation, neglect, abuse,
dependency, guardianship, paternity, termination of
parental rights, and protection from domestic violence, in
which the issue may appear. e term does not include a
proceeding involving juvenile delinquency, contractual
emancipation, or enforcement under [Article] 3.
UCCJEA § 101(4). Individual states may add additional
proceedings; for example, many states have extended the use
of the UCCJEA to adoptions.
If the proceeding is a child-custody proceeding, the initial
pleadings must include what is commonly called a UCCJEA
adavit, the elements of which are set out in section 209. is
statute sets out the required information to be supplied to
Removing States’ Common Law Jurisdiction
e real key to understanding how the UCCJEA works
comes with the realization that the Act holds child-custody
jurisdiction to the state that has the closest connection to the
children and the family. Once a state has seized jurisdiction,
that jurisdiction may continue even after the subject child
has left the state for years.
Child-custody jurisdiction is subject matter jurisdiction.
As such, it cannot be waived by the parties, and jurisdictional
challenges may be brought at any time, including on appeal,
and by any court sua sponte. e only time an agreement
between the parties is persuasive would be a factor in
determining the convenience of a forum or retaining
jurisdiction in the face of unjustiable conduct.
Jurisdiction to make nonemergency child-custody orders
is established through three main concepts:
1. “Home State.” Id. § 101(7). is iconic status is dened
by the Act as:
“Home State” means the State in which a child
lived with a parent or a person acting as a parent for
at least six consecutive months immediately before
the commencement of a child-custody proceeding.
In the case of a child less than six months of age, the
term means the State in which the child lived from
birth with any of the persons mentioned. A period
of temporary absence of any of the mentioned
persons is part of the period.
Aside from meeting this standard, home state may be
established when a court that otherwise would not have
jurisdiction under section 201 takes temporary emergency
jurisdiction and issues orders; if no action has been
commenced under sections 201–203, then the issuing state
hearing the emergency is deemed the child’s home state.
2. Exclusive, Continuing Jurisdiction. Id. §202. Under-
standing the uniformity of the Act, this statute provides
that the state that issued a child-custody order, not a
temporary emergency order under section 204, will have
modication jurisdiction until the child and anyone acting
as a parent have left the state. is determination is up to
the issuing state or a sister-state where a petition is led on
the basis that jurisdiction is now vested in this new state.
Notice that the idea of “parent” includes those acting as a
parent who are not legal parents, such as a guardian.
3. Initial Child-Custody Jurisdiction. Id. §201. is
statute is a gatekeeper provision, meaning that anytime
there is a proposed change in jurisdiction, section 201 is
the rule applicable in establishing a new jurisdiction. is
statute rst looks for a home state; failing to nd any state
tting that denition or a sister-state having declined
jurisdiction, then a two-prong test is applied: (a) does the
child and their parents, or at least one parent (including
Published in Family Advocate, Volume 43, Number 4, Spring 2021. © 2021 by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof
may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association.