Understanding the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act Part 2

Understanding the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act Part 2

In Understanding the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act Part 1, we went over some basics including:

  • Jurisdiction
  • Personal Jurisdiction
  • Temporary Jurisdiction
Now in Part 2, we will dive deeper into how Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) applies. The UCCJEA is a law designed to deter interstate parental kidnapping and promote uniform jurisdiction in interstate child custody cases.  This law applies to judgments or decrees, which together constitute “child custody determinations” in the state of Texas. These documents must be related to the physical custody, legal custody, or visitation rights of a parent for a child. These determinations might be initial, temporary, permanent, or modified orders. The UCCJEA applies to any case in which these determinations is an issue. These might include:
  • Divorce proceedings
  • Separation proceedings
  • Dependency
  • Neglect or abuse
  • Guardianship
  • Termination of parental rights
  • Paternity
  • Protective orders related to family violence

One of the goals of the UCCJEA is to help the judges and attorneys determine the “home state” of a child. A home state is one in which a child has lived with their parent or guardian for at least six consecutive months. This six month period refers to the time period directly before the beginning of the child custody case. If the child is not yet six months old, the home state refers to the place where the child was born and has lived since birth with at least one parent or guardian. “Living” in a certain state implies that they were physically present there.


UCCJEA Outside of Texas

If either parent  lives outside of the state of Texas, the filing party must give notice of a UCCJEA determination. This usually occurs through a citation forwarded to a constable in another state. In other cases, it is possible to use facsimile or regular mail to give notice out of state. In addition, proof of service can happen either in a fashion authorized by the state of Texas or the state of service. However, if the other party submits to the jurisdiction of the court, no notice is necessary. Out of state spouses or guardians have limited immunity when appearing in child custody proceedings in Texas. Still,  they are not immune from the requirement of service.  If you have further questions, you should speak with a speak with a knowledgable attorney.

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