If your child was taken from the state he or she lived in, without your permission, you are dealing with what’s known as a “removal.” In most states, a parent is supposed to seek a court order allowing a removal. However, unfortunately, this often does not happen. If your child’s other parent has
absconded with the child, without permission from you or the court, then most likely the parent who absconded with the child will want the child custody case matter to be heard in the new state. You won’t want that – you will want the case in the state where you and your child lived. The law that will most likely decided where jurisdiction will be is the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (the “UCCJEA”). If you are dealing with the UCCJEA, you will need an attorney who is familiar with the UCCJEA – because the stakes are high.
UCCJEA Stakes are High:
When you are dealing with a UCCJEA case where the other parent has removed a child from the state where you and the child previously lived, the stakes
are very high. Below are just some of what is at risk.
- You are the “away team“: If a judge in another state takes jurisdiction of the case, you will be fighting a custody case against the other parent who is operating in a venue that is friendly do them, as the local party. For instance, suppose a parent flees Chicago, Illinois to a small town in Michigan. The judge in the small town in Michigan will likely be quite friendly to the person who has fled to that jurisdiction. Keep in mind the a parent would probably flee to a certain jurisdiction because she has family there, and many judges are elected and subject to local pressure and bias.
- Massive Expense: If you have to fight a custody case in a foreign jurisdiction, the expense will likely be immense. You will probably have an attorney in both your local jurisdiction, and the foreign jurisdiction.
- Child Kept away from Home: During a custody case, the court is supposed to considering various factors in making its determination. One of those factors is essentially how embedded the child is into the community in which she is currently living. When a child is taken to a foreign jurisdiction, the objective of the parent who removed the child is to keep the child there. Therefore, the parent who removes the child will benefit from dragging out the process as long as possible. The longer the child is in the foreign jurisdiction prior to the court’s custody determination, the greater chance the court will allow the child to stay there after a determination.