Today's families are mobile. Relocations for work or because of remarriage are common. Thus, the question about when and under what circumstances a custodial parent may remove children from the State of Michigan to relocate is frequently asked of Michigan family lawyers.
In Michigan, as elsewhere, state laws mandate that judgments of divorce retain jurisdiction over the children's custodial and parenting time issues. 44 states have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. This Act eliminates some of the problems that were experienced as a result of conflict between the Uniform Parental Kidnapping Act and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act.The whole concept of the UCCJEA is to avoid concurrent jurisdiction.
This Act defines the term "the child's 'Home State' " and controls the issue of which state, of two competing states, has the authority to make "an initial custody determination" with regard to any child involved in a proceeding -- whether it's a divorce action, a paternity action, a child custody action. During the course of post-judgment proceedings, once again, the issue of which state is the child's "Home State" again controls where the contested issues will be heard and decided and court orders will be enforced or modified.
When a State has already assumed jurisdiction, that State has exclusive continuing jurisdiction to enter and to modify custody and parenting time while one of the parents continues to reside in that state. There are times when the particular facts of a case might permit temporary emergency jurisdiction by a court in one state when there is a pending action in another State. But the State making the initial child custody determination retains jurisdiction (unless there are particular facts that support a waiver of jurisdiction).
The temporary emergency jurisdiction provisions of the Act require the court in Michigan, faced with a petition requesting jurisdiction, to confer with the court in the State having exclusive, continuing jurisdiction.
I addressed the nature of temporary emergency jurisdiction at the 2007 Mid-Winter Family Law Conference held in Turks & Caicos. In addition, I spoke on the UCCJEA at the 2006 Family Law Section's Summer Institute.
The Powerpoint slide show from the Summer 2006 institute may be accessed here.
Another helpful resource to guide parties and counsel about procedural matters in a UCCJEA case by reading this Bulletin from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
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