Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act ("UCCJEA") is a statute that determines jurisdiction in interstate custody disputes. If you are living in one state and your spouse is living in another state (regardless of which of you has custody of the minor child), you are all subject to the UCCJEA.
States are free to adopt the UCCJEA as drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws or make changes they want. As a result, not all states have adopted the exact same version of the UCCJEA.
The UCCJEA determines, among other things, which state has ongoing, exclusive jurisdiction in child custody proceedings, emergency jurisdiction, the right to due process in determining jurisdiction, investigations and hearings, enforcement of orders, registering orders and judgments, attorneys fees and costs, etc.
The law in this area has undergone substantial change since 1997. Knowing your rights under the UCCJEA before you or the other party initiates a proceeding is critical where the other parent is living in a different state or one parent is planning on moving to a different state with or without the minor child.