UCCJEA Basics

The end of a relationship brings about many changes.  Obviously the demise of a relationship is a time of emotional transition, even if the relationship was relatively brief.  Also, the parties will need to separate finances, set up their respective households, and need to learn to co-parent even though they no longer share a romantic relationship.  In some situations, one or both parents may want to relocate to another city or state.  In such a situation, the parents may need to consider a set of laws contained in the New Jersey statutes commonly referred to as the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act or the “UCCJEA.”

The UCCJEA has been adopted by forty-nine out of fifty states.  The purpose of the set of laws is to provide structure to which state is the most suitable one to hear a child custody dispute.  This law and its predecessor were passed in part in reaction to some parents moving with the children in an effort to “forum shop,” or find a judge that would be sympathetic.  These frequent moves would make it difficult for the other parent to attend hearings and participate in the case and could result in a custody case being heard in a state where the child had not lived for any significant period of time.

At its essence, the UCCJEA seeks to ensure that the court that hears a child custody case occurs in a child’s “home state” when that is possible.  “Home state” is a legal term in this context, and although there are exceptions, the general rule of thumb is that the child’s home state is the state where the child has resided for the past six months.  There are exceptions for these provisions for where, for example, a child is younger than six months or where there is an emergency.

When filing a custody action, to make sure that the case complies with the UCCJEA, the parents need to first determine if there is a court that has already made a custody determination.  If so, that court is the proper court to make a custody modification, unless one of the parents can prove that court is no longer appropriate because it is located in a place that is no longer the child’s home state.  If that is the case, the court that made the previous order and the proposed new court will need to talk to determine which court is more appropriate. 

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Deciding which court is the appropriate place to hear a custody case is an important inquiry.  Contact us today, and we can talk to you about your children and your case.

Are you interested in seeking an annulment? If so, contact Williams Law Group, LLC right away. Our family law attorneys will review your case to determine if an annulment is an option. If it is, we will guide you through the process and ensure you make the best decisions for your future. Call our office at (908) 738-8512, email us atinfo@awilliamslawgroup.com, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation Download our Free Resource Guide today!

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