Parents in Florida can go through a lot to reach a child custody and visitation arrangement that they feel meets their child’s needs. While some of these issues can be hashed out during negotiations, sometimes they require litigation. Unlike other divorce legal issues, though, child custody disputes can arise a long time after they were initially settled. When one parent fails to abide by a court order regarding child custody and visitation, then child abduction may have occurred.
Sometimes parents take their children out of state in an effort to avoid child custody laws. Fortunately, there is a uniform law recognized by almost every state that allows for other states’ courts to recognize child custody and visitation orders from another state. This law is called the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.
Broadly speaking, the UCCJEA gives jurisdiction over custody matters to a child’s home state. A home state is generally defined as the state a child resides in with a parent for the six months leading up to the commencement of a child custody proceeding. A home state may be established by showing that the child has significant connections to the state. Under he UCCJEA, then, a parent cannot take a child, leave the state, and seek a court order in that state granting him or her custody. Before any child custody proceeding can be initiated, an out of state court has to communicate with the court that previously or currently has jurisdiction, and those courts must determine which state should assume jurisdiction.
The UCCJEA is a powerful tool for parents to prevent interstate abduction and seek the return of children who have been taken out of state in contradiction to a custody or visitation order. Jurisdictional issues can be difficult to navigate, though, which is why parents who believe their child has been subjected to interstate or international abduction should consider reaching out to an attorney who knows how the law applies to these matters.