According to the United States Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, there are between 200,000 and 300,000 reported cases of parental abduction every year in the United States
In nearly half of these cases, children are taken across state lines and concealed, or the abductors have prevented contact with the “left-behind” parent, and/or have intended to keep the children indefinitely or until custody was changed.
Because the UCCJEA gave equal weight to each of the four bases for taking jurisdiction, there continued to be controversies between state courts as to which court had exclusive or continuing jurisdiction, causing an inherent conflict between the UCCJA and the PKPA.
As a result, the Uniform Laws Commission promulgated the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act in 1997.
The UCCJEA to date has been adopted by 45 states. The UCCJA remains the law in those states not adopting the UCCJEA.
Original Jurisdiction under the UCCJEA MCL 722.1201(1)(a)
Original Jurisdiction— Priority to make initial child custody order
If child has a Home State, that is the only State where jurisdiction is proper unless the Home State declines to exercise jurisdiction
“ Home State” = State in which child lived with a parent or person acting as a parent on the date of commencement of child custody proceeding or State that was the home state of the child within the 6 months immediately preceding filing of the action.
The crux of the issue: Is there sufficient evidence in the state to make an informed custody determination?
Narrower definition of who has the connection: (a) The child and the child's parents, or (b) the child and at least 1 parent or a person acting as a parent
The connection must be significant — more than mere physical presence.”
“ More Appropriate Forum” Jurisdiction under MCL 722.1201(1)(c)
Michigan has jurisdiction if state having Home State jurisdiction under subdivision (a) and state having Significant Connection jurisdiction under subdivision (b) decline to exercise jurisdiction on grounds that Michigan is more appropriate forum to make decision under sections 207 or 208
“ No other state” Jurisdiction under MCL 722.1201(1)(d)
Michigan can exercise jurisdiction to make an initial child custody determination if no other state has or retains jurisdiction under subsections (a), (b), or (c).
Remember: There is no best interest of the child standard as in the UCCJA.
Unlike the UCCJA, Emergency Jurisdiction now has its own section, MCL 722.1204.
Michigan has temporary emergency jurisdiction if the child is present in this state and the child has been abandoned or it is necessary in an emergency to protect the child because the child, or a sibling or parent of the child, is subjected to or threatened with mistreatment or abuse. MCL 722.1204(1)
A court that has jurisdiction may decline to exercise it on the grounds that another state is a more convenient forum, or because of conduct of one of the parties. No best interest of the child analysis required.
Once a court that has jurisdiction under the UCCJEA makes a custody determination, that court keeps exclusive and continuing jurisdiction over that determination until:
That same court determines that neither the child, the parents, and any person acting as parent has a substantial connection with the state and that substantial evidence is no longer available in this state regarding the child’s care, protection, training, and personal relationships or
That same court or another court determines that none of the above parties resides in the issuing state.
A Michigan court has temporary emergency jurisdiction if the child is present in this state and the child has been abandoned or it is necessary in an emergency to protect the child because the child, or a sibling or parent of the child, is subjected to or threatened with mistreatment or abuse.
Issuing court (the court with exclusive, continuing jurisdiction) retains control.
Emergency court must communicate with issuing court and emergency court must specify in any order the time period that the court deems adequate for the person seeking the custody order to go to obtain the order from the issuing state.
If there is no issuing state, any determination remains in effect until some state obtains jurisdiction under one of the four bases set forth in the UCCJEA.
A Michigan court shall recognize and enforce a child-custody determination of a court of another state if the latter court exercised jurisdiction that was in substantial conformity with this act or the child-custody determination was made under factual circumstances meeting the jurisdictional standards of this act and the child-custody determination has not been modified in accordance with this act.
(2) A court of this state may utilize a remedy available under another law of this state to enforce a child-custody determination made by a court of another state. The procedure provided by this article does not affect the availability of other remedies to enforce a child-custody determination.
Courts in states that have enacted the UCCJEA are required to give full faith and credit to an order issued by another state that is consistent with this act and to enforces a child-custody determination by a court of another state unless the order has been vacated, stayed, or modified by a court having jurisdiction to do so under article 2.
Not all states and not all Courts in states that have enacted the UCCJEA have had sufficient experience with the UCCJEA to acquaint them with the procedures. A party is not required to register a custody order in order to get enforcement. A Writ of Habeas Corpus, a UCCJEA Warrant for Return of Child, or a UCCJEA Child Pick-up Order should be enforced without registration.
Securing the Return of Kidnapped Child (cont.)
Send person picking up child to state where child is located fully armed with a certified copy of court documents (Motion for Custody, Child Custody Order, UCCJEA Warrant
Prepare law enforcement and the court in other state for arrival of documents
Request Full Faith & Credit – cite to that state’s UCCJEA (or UCCJA) statute
Communicate with Prosecuting Attorney and law enforcement, sending copies of all documents and also sending along the UCCJEA Bulletin provided by The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)
Registration of Custody Orders MCL 722.1305, 722.1306
Uniform procedures are established.
Specific documents must be submitted.
Specific notice must be given.
Other party must meet deadline to request a hearing.
Consequences of missing the deadline
Court in enforcement state can grant any relief that is authorized under the law of the enforcement state, but may not modify the custody determination.
The Committee for Missing Children, Inc. – Custody and Parental Abduction by State. Resources for lawyers and parents -- links to the substantive law available in each State for use in recovering children who have been abducted. http://www.findthekids.org/abdbystate.html
List of 44 states having adopted UCCJEA and other summary of UCCJEA from ABA: www.abanet.org/family/newsletters/2005/UCCJEA.pdf