Our Portland Family Lawyer Explains the Uniform Child Support Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act

Photo of an adult and child holding hands
Child custody cases are complicated enough when parents live in the same state, but these matters often become even more complicated when parents reside in different states. All states, with the exception of Massachusetts, have adopted the Uniform Child Support Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), which establishes guidelines for determining jurisdiction and requires states to enforce existing child custody orders from other states. Portland divorce attorney Ronald Allen Johnston has been representing mothers and fathers in child custody cases and other family law matters for more than 40 years. He understands the complexities of interstate custody and uses his extensive litigation experience to help parents resolve disputes.

Determining Jurisdiction Under UCCJEA

The Uniform Child Support Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act provides that the home state of the child is the proper place for child custody cases. The UCCJEA outlines the home state criteria, plus additional criteria if the situation does not meet the requirements for home state jurisdiction. These definitions include:

  • Home state — priority is given to the child’s home state, i.e., the state in which the child resided with a parent for at least six months immediately prior to the legal action
  • Significant connection — established when a child and at least one parent have a significant connection to a state
  • More appropriate forum — exists when both the home state and significant connection state have declined to exercise jurisdiction on the grounds that another state is a more appropriate forum
  • No other state — exists when no state has home state, significant connection or more appropriate forum jurisdiction

Additionally, courts can exercise emergency jurisdiction to protect a child or a sibling or parent of the child from abuse or mistreatment, as well as in situations involving child abandonment. Although emergency jurisdiction is only temporary, some emergency orders become final.

Typically, parents should file a new child custody case in the child’s home state. When seeking modification of an existing child custody order, the court that issued the original order has exclusive, continued jurisdiction to modify it, unless that court loses significant connection jurisdiction or the child and the child’s parents no longer live in that state. To enforce an out-of-state child custody order, parents generally must register the order in an Oregon Circuit Court. If you require assistance establishing, enforcing or modifying an interstate custody order, Portland family lawyer Ronald Allen Johnston can help you determine the appropriate jurisdiction in which to pursue legal action.

Avoid Violating a Custody Order

Taking a child across state lines in violation of a custody order may constitute a federal crime under the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA). Do not risk breaking the law or your custody order. Let an experienced Portland divorce lawyer review your custody agreement and explain your rights and obligations under interstate child custody law. If you are planning to move out of state, or if you have questions about other custody-related matters, contact Portland family attorney Ronald Allen Johnston today.

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