The Review CourseThe 2018 Marital & Family Law Review Course is considered the premier advanced, continuing education opportunity for marital and family law attorneys and judicial officers in Florida. It is a privilege to be asked to address interstate custody and international child abductions at the annual Family Law Board Certification Seminar again. The seminar is the largest, and most prestigious advanced family law course in the state. Last year’s audience included 1,600+ attorneys and judges. The review course is co-presented by the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar, and The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
Interstate CustodyI’ve written about interstate and international custody cases before. Generally, when two parents reside in Florida, Florida custody laws will apply. However, when one of the parents and the child move across state lines, you have an interstate custody problem. But, which law applies? Historically, family law is a matter of state rather than federal law. So, you would look to the state law of Florida, for example, in deciding an interstate case; not Federal law.
For various reasons, people travel more. As a result, family law has to take on an interstate, and international component. Accordingly, the conflicts between states can be amplified.To help with confusion between different laws in different American states, the Uniform Law Commission is tasked with drafting laws on various subjects that attempt to bring uniformity across American state lines. With respect to family law, different American states had adopted different approaches to issues related to interstate custody, visitation, and time-sharing. The results were that different states had conflicting resolutions to the same problems. To seek harmony in the area of interstate custody, the Uniform Law Commission promulgated the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (the UCCJEA), which Florida and almost all U.S. states passed into law.
The UCCJEA: Initial ActionsThe most fundamental aspect of interstate custody under the UCCJEA is the approach to the jurisdiction needed to start a case. In part, the UCCJEA requires a court have some jurisdiction vis-a-vis the child. That jurisdiction is based on where the child is, and the significant connections the child has with the forum state, let’s say Florida for this example.
The ultimate determining factor in a Florida case then, is what is the “home state” of the child.There is a good reason for the ‘home state’ approach under the UCCJEA, which has been adopted by most state laws. That is that Florida – and the other states – all have a strong public policy interest in protecting children in their states. You can register for the 2018 Marital & Family Law Review Course here.