What is the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act?

Child Custody Lawyers

From time to time, various organizations, such as the Uniform Law Commission (also known as the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws), come up with what they consider Model Acts that they encourage all states to adopt. They believe that these promote uniformity across the different states in the United States. The Uniform Child Custody and Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”) is one such law, promulgated by the Uniform Law Commission in 1997.

The Model Act would require courts in states that approve it to enforce child custody orders and visitation orders issued by other states that have also adopted the Model Act as its law.

Texas adopted one of these Model Acts, the UCCJEA, in 1999. This law has strong implications for divorced parents living in Texas who have a court order from another state with an ex-partner.

How the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act Can Impact Your Case

Under the UCCJEA, child custody and visitation orders issued by other states are enforceable in Texas. In other words, if the mother of the child obtained a custody order in another state and remained a resident there, the mother was obligated to follow the visitation provisions of the court order and allow the child to travel to Texas for court-ordered visitation periods.

While there are certainly nuances and caveats that require you to speak with a skilled attorney to address, once in possession of the child, if the parent residing in Texas refused to send the child back to the custodial parent living in another state, the court in either Texas or the other state would have the power to compel the return of the child. The UCCJEA makes even clearer the provisions of the prior Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (“UCCJA”) from 1968.

For a state to have jurisdiction to issue an order, the UCCJEA requires that the child must have lived in the state for six months prior to a party obtaining the custody and visitation order. Once that requirement is met and the order is issued, the courts of the non-custodial parent, if living in a state that has adopted the model law, must enforce the order.

So if you got married in Oklahoma and lived there for six months after your child was born, if your spouse obtains a custody and visitation order from an Oklahoma court, you will be bound by that order even if you return to Texas after the order is entered..

The same would be true no matter where you resided in the United States, so long as your soon-to-be ex-partner and your child lived in Oklahoma for at least six months prior to obtaining a custody order.

What this means is that ignoring or violating a custody or visitation order issued in another state is not advisable for Texas residents; the courts here are bound by the Texas-enacted UCCJEAthat requires them to honor—and enforce—out-of-state custody or visitation orders.

If Your Divorce Is Impacted By The UCCJEA, You Should Talk To Orsinger, Nelson, Downing, and Anderson LLP

Going through a divorce is not just a difficult time in your life, it is a complicated legal situation. Sometimes, that situation involves custody and visitation orders issued by another state. If this describes your situation, you should consult the Fort Worth child custody lawyers of Orsinger, Nelson, Downing, and Anderson LLP. We can provide guidance on what options are available to you.

Call us at (214) 273-2400 to schedule a free consultation with one of our Fort Worth interstate child custody lawyers. We also have offices in Frisco, Dallas, and San Antonio. We’re here to help, and we have the experience and knowledge to do so.