Jurisdiction and UCCJEA and PKPA

The UCCJEA is the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. This act helped combine the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) with the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA). There were differences between these two acts pertaining to the priority and the exclusive jurisdiction of a state to a case. The PKPA prioritizes the home state of the child and gives that state the first opportunity to take jurisdiction, which the UCCJEA supports. The changes in the UCCJEA from the UCCJA is mainly to help reinforce the influence of the PKPA and the first opportunity of the home state for jurisdiction. However, the UCCJEA covers many other topics of importance that pertain to state’s rights over jurisdiction for different kinds of cases.

Regulations and Laws Pertaining to UCCJEA

 

In Florida statutes’, under Title VI, chapter 61, part II, the entire section provides many different regulations and laws pertaining to the UCCJEA. A few that deal directly with jurisdiction are Florida Statutes §61.514, §61.515, §61.516, and §61.517. Section 61.514 concerns initial child custody, Section 61.515 explains the exclusive, continuing jurisdiction, Section 61.516 deals with jurisdiction over modifying a determination, and Section 61.517 regards temporary emergency jurisdiction. Florida Statute §61.514 helps to explain many of the other statutes because it includes how jurisdiction is handled overall. It states that:

“(1) Except as otherwise provided in s. 61.517, a court of this state has jurisdiction to make an initial child custody determination only if:

(a) This state is the home state of the child on the date of the commencement of the proceeding, or was the home state of the child within 6 months before the commencement of the proceeding and the child is absent from this state but a parent or person acting as a parent continues to live in this state;

(b) A court of another state does not have jurisdiction under paragraph (a), or a court of the home state of the child has declined to exercise jurisdiction on the grounds that this state is the more appropriate forum under s. 61.520 or s. 61.521, and:

  1. The child and the child’s parents, or the child and at least one parent or a person acting as a parent, have a significant connection with this state other than mere physical presence; and
  2. Substantial evidence is available in this state concerning the child’s care, protection, training, and personal relationships;

(c) All courts having jurisdiction under paragraph (a) or paragraph (b) have declined to exercise jurisdiction on the grounds that a court of this state is the more appropriate forum to determine the custody of the child under s. 61.520 or s. 61.521; or

(d) No court of any other state would have jurisdiction under the criteria specified in paragraph (a), paragraph (b), or paragraph (c).

(2) Subsection (1) is the exclusive jurisdictional basis for making a child custody determination by a court of this state.

(3) Physical presence of, or personal jurisdiction over, a party or a child is not necessary or sufficient to make a child custody determination.” (Fla. Stat. §61.514). The jurisdiction over cases by states mainly is defined by whether or not residency in the state has been established, and another court does not already have jurisdiction over the case. It also does not allow a court to take jurisdiction from another court.

UCCJEA – Florida Statute §61.515

Similarly, to Florida Statute §61.514, the statute of exclusive, continuing jurisdiction helps reinforce some of the points made in statute §61.514. According to Florida Statute §61.515, a state has exclusive and continuing jurisdiction under these conditions:

“(1) Except as otherwise provided in s. 61.517, a court of this state which has made a child custody determination consistent with s. 61.514 or s. 61.516 has exclusive, continuing jurisdiction over the determination until:

(a) A court of this state determines that the child, the child’s parents, and any person acting as a parent do not have a significant connection with this state and that substantial evidence is no longer available in this state concerning the child’s care, protection, training, and personal relationships; or

(b) A court of this state or a court of another state determines that the child, the child’s parent, and any person acting as a parent do not presently reside in this state.

(2) A court of this state which has made a child custody determination and does not have exclusive, continuing jurisdiction under this section may modify that determination only if it has jurisdiction to make an initial determination under s. 61.514.” (Fla. Stat. §61.515). This just basically helps reaffirm the idea that a state can remain the only court with jurisdiction over a case unless it is proven that another court already had jurisdiction, or there is no longer an established connection to the state anymore.

Statute §61.516 –  Jurisdiction to Modify a Determination

In the statute mentioned above, both Florida Statutes §61.516 and §61.517 are mentioned. Statute §61.516 is pretty straightforward stating that: “Except as otherwise provided in s. 61.517, a court of this state may not modify a child custody determination made by a court of another state unless a court of this state has jurisdiction to make an initial determination under s. 61.514(1)(a) or (b) and:

(1) The court of the other state determines it no longer has exclusive, continuing jurisdiction under s. 61.515 or that a court of this state would be a more convenient forum under s. 61.520; or

(2) A court of this state or a court of the other state determines that the child, the child’s parents, and any person acting as a parent do not presently reside in the other state.” (Fla. Stat. §61.516). A court cannot modify or change another court’s decision unless it is seen that the original court no longer has any kind of jurisdiction over the case, or the family no longer resides in the state of original jurisdiction. In section 61. 517, things get a little more complicated due to the fact that these are only for temporary and emergent situations.

Temporary Emergency Jurisdiction

For temporary emergency jurisdiction, “(1) A court of this state 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.

(2) If there is no previous child custody determination that is entitled to be enforced under this part, and a child custody proceeding has not been commenced in a court of a state having jurisdiction under ss. 61.51461.516, a child custody determination made under this section remains in effect until an order is obtained from a court of a state having jurisdiction under ss. 61.51461.516. If a child custody proceeding has not been or is not commenced in a court of a state having jurisdiction under ss. 61.51461.516, a child custody determination made under this section becomes a final determination if it so provides and this state becomes the home state of the child.

(3) If there is a previous child custody determination that is entitled to be enforced under this part, or a child custody proceeding has been commenced in a court of a state having jurisdiction under ss. 61.51461.516, any order issued by a court of this state under this section must specify in the order a period that the court considers adequate to allow the person seeking an order to obtain an order from the state having jurisdiction under ss. 61.51461.516. The order issued in this state remains in effect until an order is obtained from the other state within the period specified or the period expires.

(4) A court of this state which has been asked to make a child custody determination under this section, upon being informed that a child custody proceeding has been commenced in, or a child custody determination has been made by, a court of a state having jurisdiction under ss. 61.51461.516, shall immediately communicate with the other court. A court of this state which is exercising jurisdiction under ss. 61.51461.516, upon being informed that a child custody proceeding has been commenced in, or a child custody determination has been made by, a court of another state under a statute similar to this section shall immediately communicate with the court of that state to resolve the emergency, protect the safety of the parties and the child, and determine a period for the duration of the temporary order.” (Fla. Stat. §61.517). Typically, this kind of jurisdiction is used in special cases that temporary custody needs to be established as fast as possible in order for other proceedings to be established.

UCCJEA Court Case Examples

 

Some of the main statutes pertaining to jurisdiction are listed above, but there are multiple other parts to the UCCJEA statute in Florida. The case of Kessinger v. Kessinger, 228 So. 3d 1201 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2017) is associated with the UCCJEA and the jurisdiction of Florida over the party’s out-of-state child custody determination. The former husband wished to modify the child support and child custody judgements from their New York divorce. The Duval County circuit court approved his petition and the former wife appealed. Later it was deemed the state of Florida did not have the jurisdiction over an out-of-state judgement and therefore, did not have the right to alter the child custody and support orders already determined.

This case aligns with Florida Statute §61.516 which defines the jurisdiction over modification. Another example of a case that supports the Florida Statute §61.514 is Baker v. Tunney, 201 So. 3d 1235 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2016). Baker v. Tunney deals with the jurisdiction of the home state of the child. The father filed a petition in order to determine the paternity, who has parental responsibility, and child support, however the court dismissed his petition. After this dismissal he appealed, and the case was reversed and remanded.

It was determined that because Florida was the home state of the child, it had required jurisdiction over this case. As long as Florida remained the child’s home state, the jurisdiction belonged to the state of Florida. If Florida renounced its jurisdiction and gave it to New York, which was where the mother lived, New York would have had the responsibility in determining the judgements of this case. However, in the UCCJEA, home state of the child plays a major role in the deciding the state with jurisdiction over the case.

Conclusion

The role of the UCCJEA is large and encompasses many different aspects. The statutes listed above are only a few of the parts of the act that help explain a state’s right to jurisdiction. These statutes and judgements can vary depending on the specifics of the case, however for Florida, these statutes help provide a basis for any jurisdiction over a case dealing with child custody. These four statutes described are only a few from the Florida Statutes title VI, chapter 61, part II. However, they are important and present in determining the jurisdiction over any case involving child custody.

 

References:

http://www.uniformlaws.org/ActSummary.aspx?title=Child%20Custody%20Jurisdiction%20and%20Enforcement%20Act

 

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0000-0099/0061/0061PartIIContentsIndex.html&StatuteYear=2018&Title=%2D%3E2018%2D%3EChapter%2061%2D%3EPart%20II

 

Kessinger v. Kessinger, 228 So. 3d 1201 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2017)

 

Baker v. Tunney, 201 So. 3d 1235 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2016)

 

Fla. Stat. §61.514

 

Fla. Stat. §61.515

 

Fla. Stat. §61.516

 

Fla. Stat. §61.517