The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) is a Uniform Act drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 1997. The UCCJEA governs state courts’ jurisdiction to make and modify “child-custody determinations,” a term that expressly includes custody and visitation orders. The Act requires state courts to enforce valid child-custody and visitation determinations made by sister state courts. It also establishes innovative interstate enforcement procedures. However, UCCJEA is not a substantive custody statute.
The UCCJEA applies to the following among other things:
- Applies to a range of proceedings in which custody or visitation is at issue;
- Authorizes temporary enforcement of visitation determinations;
- Authorizes courts to exercise emergency jurisdiction in cases involving family abuse and limits the relief available in emergency cases to temporary custody orders;
- Creates a registration process for out of State custody determinations.
- Establishes a procedure for speedy interstate enforcement of custody and visitation determinations.
The UCCJEA replaced a previous Uniform Act, the “Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act”, primarily because the old act was inconsistent with the federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act. Especially, when determining proper jurisdiction for initial custody determinations. The UCCJEA corrects these problems. The UCCJEA also added uniform procedures to register and enforce child-custody orders across state lines.
The UCCJEA requires State courts to recognize and enforce custody determinations made by foreign courts under factual circumstances that substantially conform with the UCCJEA’s jurisdictional standards. However, state courts need not enforce a foreign court order if the child-custody law of the foreign country violates fundamental principles of human rights.