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Divorce Library – Interstate Jurisdiction (UCCJEA and UIFSA) Faqs

  What is UCCJEA?
 

UCCJEA stands for “Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act,” a law that has been enacted in all fifty states. UCCJEA is intended to assure that disputes regarding the making of orders for custody and enforcement are handled in a “uniform” manner throughout the U.S. This does not mean that the outcome will be the same, but rather that each state will handle disputes over which court has authority to make and/or enforce child-sharing orders in a consistent manner. As a practical matter, UCCJEA requires that the judges in different states discuss which state is the more appropriate place for disputes regarding custody and visitation to be heard.

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  What is UIFSA?
 

UIFSA stands for “Uniform Interstate Family Support Act,” a law that has been enacted in all fifty states. UIFSA is intended to assure that disputes regarding support are handled in a “uniform” manner throughout the U.S. This does not mean that the outcome will be the same, but rather that each state will enforce the other state’s support orders in a consistent manner. UIFSA is an outgrowth of the Federal government’s effort to reduce the staggering amount of unpaid child support.

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  Former spouse and I were divorced in California. The children and I moved to another state. So did my former spouse. We are having problems with child-sharing. Which court do we need to file papers in?
 

If California originally issued the order regarding child-sharing, then it retains the power (“jurisdiction”) to make further orders regarding child-sharing. This rule also applies to orders that were originally made in other states. Even if you and the other parent agree to change which state will hear future matters, this can only happen if the original court relinquishes its jurisdiction (gives up its power) to make child-sharing orders and transfers its authority to a different court. There are special rules governing when the case can be transferred.

If both parties have moved from California and the children have lived in another state for at least six months, then that state may be determined to be the “home state” of the children. It may then be possible for that state to take over jurisdiction regarding the issues of custody and visitation. However, if one parent still remains in California although the children have moved out of California, California could still retain jurisdiction over the issues of custody and visitation. You should seek advise of counsel on this issue if a change of jurisdiction is warranted.

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  My former spouse and I were divorced in California. The children and I moved to Virginia. My former spouse remained in California. I want to modify the child support. Which court do I need to file papers in?

 

Normally, you would file in California. California has continuing jurisdiction (authority) to modify its own support orders, because the original order was made here.

You could “register” your California support order in Virginia, which would allow the Virginia court to modify the order. However, this could give rise to an enforcement problem, because there must be a connection between the payor and the state in which the court order is issued for it to be enforceable, which in this case is established because the person lives here.

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