Several lawyers asked today about what was the most expedient way to handle getting a move-away parent to bring a child back to Michigan to the "left-behind" parent. Michigan, like most States, has enacted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. [UCCJEA]. This uniform law says that initial child custody determinations should be made by the child's "Home State," if there is one.
‘Home state’ means the state in which a child lived with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least 6 consecutive months immediately before the commencement of a child-custody proceeding. * * * A period of temporary absence of a parent or person acting as a parent is included as part of the period.” MCL 722.1102(g)
A lot depends upon whether the child is still in Michigan or has been abducted to another State. It also depends upon whether there is an existing court order. If the child has been abducted to another State, then the UCCJEA is implicated and sometimes (usually) more is required. If the child is still in Michigan, a simple ex parte pick-up order can suffice. (I remember the first time I asked for one. This was back in 1989-1990. The Circuit Court Judge handling the matter found me in the lawyer's lounge, came in, signed the order and handed it to me saying: "Jeanne, where do you find these clients?") Recall that withholding the child for more than 24 hours beyond the parenting time awarded to the complaining parent is parental kidnapping -- a felony.
If Michigan is the Home State (even though no court action has been initiated and no initial child custody determination has been made, then a Michigan judge may enter an ex parte child custody and parenting time order preserving the status quo and in conjunction with it, may order the child picked up and delivered into the arms of the Michigan parent.
Today's families are on the move. Parents often don't think twice about removing a child from the State and if the left-behind parent does not act promptly, the State to which the abducting parent has fled can acquire Home State jurisdiction.
The UCCJEA forms I've drafted are available on my website here. Be sure to read the Dept of Justice Bulletin on the UCCJEA referenced in this material. I've found it useful to email this to the judge's law clerk and the prosecuting attorney so that can read up on how they must grant Full Faith and Credit. It paves the way for enforcement.
To recover a wrongfully removed child, you'll want to petition the court for an initial / status quo child custody / parenting time order, and then look at forms 11, 12, and 13 for enforcement in another State. Some States, New York being one, require in addition to a pick-up order, a UCCJEA Warrant. This is form 6 on my website.
Also consider, if you don't think the other parent is a flight risk, just getting your ducks in a row (getting the orders, warrant, etc.) and letting the other parent know that if they do not return the child within 48 hours (or 24 hours), they will not only face a world of trouble, but possible felony charges for parental kidnapping and also liability for all of the costs and fees that will be incurred by the left-behind parent. Those financial penalties are built into the UCCJEA and may persuade the abducting parent to giddyup home.
You'll find many other valuable resources on my website http://parental-kidnapping.com. If your child is missing, please contact me to see if I can assist you or your attorney in recovery. I've consulted in many interstate parental kidnappings -- 7 in the past 12 months alone -- and can walk your attorney through the process even if Michigan is not one of the states involved. You can email me firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 231-223-7864 or 231-649-2140.