Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act
Many children live in multiple states before they reach the age of eighteen. If their parents share custody, they may disagree as to which state’s custody laws apply and which courts can exercise jurisdiction over any custody disputes. Fortunately, Texas and most other states have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, which offers guidance for how to handle custody disputes that cross over state lines. If you have questions with regard to which court has the authority to determine your custody rights, it is important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. At McClure Law Group, our knowledgeable Dallas child-custody attorneys understand that it is critical for parents to protect their rights, and if you engage our services, we will zealously pursue your desired outcome.The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) is an act drafted in 1997 that sets forth parameters for determining jurisdiction in custody matters across state lines. Texas and all other states, with the exception of Massachusetts, have adopted the UCCJEA.
Generally, the UCCJEA only comes into effect in cases in which there is a question as to which state has the authority to determine custody rights. For example, it applies in matters in which the parents live in different states or one parent moves with the child to another state. Under the UCCJEA, the courts in a child’s home state initially have exclusive and continuing jurisdiction over custody matters pertaining to that child unless the UCCJEA bestows jurisdiction upon another state.
The UCCJEA defines a child’s home state as the place where they have lived since birth if they are less than six months old or where they have lived with a parent for six months consecutively prior to the institution of the custody action. In some cases, though, a child will not have lived in any state for six months in a row. In such instances, the courts will assess whether a state has significant connections with the child and at least one parent and if there is substantial evidence within the state regarding the child’s protection, care, training, and relationships. If so, a court within that state will be granted jurisdiction over custody proceedings.
A court that has made a custody determination in accordance with UCCJEA has continuing exclusive jurisdiction over the case that will continue until one of two things occur. First, if the court finds that neither the child, their parents, nor anyone acting as their parent has a substantial connection with the state and that evidence regarding the child’s care, relationships, protection, and training is no longer available in the state, it may relinquish jurisdiction. Second, a court’s jurisdiction will cease if a court or a court situated in another state determines that the child, their parents, or anyone acting as their parent no longer live in the state that issued the original custody order.
Talk to an Experienced Dallas Attorney
Even if a Texas court does not have jurisdiction under the UCCJEA, it can exercise jurisdiction to hear a custody case if the child in question is in Texas and has been abandoned, or it is necessary to do so to protect the child because either they, their parent or sibling have been threatened with or subjected to abuse or mistreatment.
Co-parents will often disagree as to what is best for their children and which state has the right to make such determinations, but the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act can make it easier to resolve custody battles between parents that live in different jurisdictions. If you are concerned about protecting your parental rights, it is smart to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. The experienced Dallas lawyers of McClure Law Group are well-versed in what it takes to achieve good results in custody proceedings, and if we represent you, we will set forth compelling arguments on your behalf. Our main office is in Dallas, and we are available to meet by appointment at our Collin-County office in Plano. We regularly aid parties in custody matters in Dallas, Garland, Fort Worth, McKinney, Richardson, Frisco, Irving, and Rockwall. We also represent parties in family-law cases in cities in Dallas, Collin, Grayson, Tarrant, Rockwall, and Denton Counties. You can contact us by calling us at 214.692.8200 or via our form online to set up a confidential meeting.