The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) was adopted by Illinois in 1979, which attempted to resolve jurisdictional competition between states, discourage forum shopping, and protect the children’s best interest. It required a two-step analysis to resolve jurisdictional disputes. First, the state court had to resolve if it was the “home state” of the child and the child’s best interest. If all of that was resolved in the affirmative, the court then had to consider whether it should decline jurisdiction in favor of a competing state. The UCCJA was soon backed up by the Federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (FPKPA), which preempted and nullified any conflicting parts of any state laws. It acted as a filter to make more uniform the varied adoptions of the UCCJA. With that fix of strapped-together state and federal law, it was fairly common to have two competing custody disputes initiated in separate states; and it wasn’t always clear which state would come out on top. Each party would have to have a lawyer in each state.
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) then followed:
• resolves the conflicts between the state interpretations of the UCCJA;
• resolves conflicts that extisted between the UCCJA and the PKPA;
• gives priority to “home state” jurisdiction, which is the state in which a child lived with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least six consecutive months immediately before the commencement of a child-custody proceeding. In the case of a child less than six months of age, the term means the state in which the child lived from birth with any of the persons mentioned. A period of temporary absence of any of the mentioned persons is part of the period;
• gives the state with jurisdiction “continuing and exclusive” jurisdiction to enforce and modify custody and visitation orders;
• creates new mechanisms for prosecutors and law enforcement to enforce interstate custody and visitation orders;
• provides new protections for victims of domestic violence consistent with the Violence Against Women Act;
• dovetails with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects for International Child Abduction;
• requires all courts to give UCCJEA claims priority and to handle them expeditiously;
• clarifies the procedures by which courts are to communicate with each other;
• affords the parties the opportunity to participate in court-to-court communications;
• requires that court-to-court communications be recorded so errors can be corrected; and
• allows for telephonic and video depositions and testimony.
There are exceptions to custody cases (now known as parental responsibility cases) in Illinois, including temporary emergency jurisdiction to escape domestic violence, inconvenient forum, unclean hands, exclusive continuing jurisdiction, custody jurisdiction in divorce and many, many more challenges and interpretations.
Since every case is unique you need to reach out to the experienced lawyers at www.wardfamilylawchicago.com to answer your questions for filing cases of custody, which is now known as parental responsibility in Illinois.
Jennifer R. Ward has exclusively practiced in the matrimonial and family law field for nearly 20 years. Furthermore, Ms. Ward is Adjunct Faculty at the John Marshall Law School teaching family law legal drafting to law students and has done so since 2005.