If you are involved in a family law case with children, at some point you have seen the acronym UCCJEA and probably wondered what it means. UCCJEA stands for Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. The UCCJEA and the affidavit, described below, are initially used by the court to determine whether or not Florida has jurisdiction to make a custody determination, or whether jurisdiction is proper in another state. Florida is required to extend full faith and credit (meaning they have to honor in full) another state’s custody determination as long as they were properly entered. The UCCJEA serves many purposes, including avoiding jurisdictional conflicts, promoting cooperation between states, deterring abductions, and to prevent duplicative litigation in multiple states over the same issue. The UCCJEA also limits a court’s jurisdiction by providing the initial court with continuing and exclusive jurisdiction unless that court relinquishes jurisdiction to Florida, as well as other in other ways.
At some point during your litigation or your initial research, you have probably seen a UCCJEA affidavit and wondered why you have to complete one. Every party to a paternity or divorce case with children, new or re-opened, must fill out a UCCJEA Affidavit. This document provides the addresses for every child related to the case for the last five years, as well as the persons with whom the child has resided for the past five years, and those people’s current addresses. The court itself has a duty to review these affidavits to ensure that jurisdiction is proper and that all persons required to be noticed about the case are included in the case. Additionally, the parties all have a duty to continue to provide updated UCCJEA Affidavits during the pendency of the family law case. While the form itself and the information required may be daunting, engaging a family law attorney to assist you with this matter, and to determine if there will be any jurisdictional issues is the best way to ensure that you case proceeds through the court system smoothly.