The UCCJEA stands for Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act. It is an act that is required for a court to take jurisdiction of any children’s issues. The purpose of the UCCJEA is to avoid jurisdictional competition and conflict with courts of other states in matters of child custody. This can be found in Florida Statue 61.502. Courts recognize the longstanding and fundamental liberty interests of parents in the care and upbringing of their children free from the heavy hand of government paternalism. This fundamental liberty interest in parenting is protected by both the Florida and Federal Constitutions.
The relevant section in Florida Statutes for a Florida court to exercise temporary emergency jurisdiction over a child in a custody determination can be found in Florida Statue 61.517 which states: (1) A court of this state has temporary emergency jurisdiction if the child is present in this state and the child has been abandoned or it is necessary in an emergency to protect the child because the child, or a sibling or parent of a child, is subjected to or threatened with mistreatment or abuse. (3) If there is a previous child custody determination that is entitled to be enforced under this part, or a child custody proceeding has been commenced in a court of a state having jurisdiction under Florida Statutes, any order issued by a court of this state under this section must specify in the order a period that the court considers adequate to allow the person seeking an order to obtain an order from the state having jurisdiction under Florida Statutes 61.514-61.516. The order issued in this state remains in effect until an order is obtained from the other state within the period specified or the period expires. (4) A court of this state which has been asked to make a child custody determination under this section, upon being informed that a child custody proceeding has been commenced in, or a child custody determination has been made by, a court of a state having jurisdiction under Statutes 61.514-61.516, shall immediately communicate with the other court. A court of this state which is exercising jurisdiction under Statutes 61.514-61.516, upon being informed that a child custody proceeding has been commenced in, or a child custody determination has been made by, a court of another state under a statute similar to this section shall immediately communicate with the court of that state to resolve the emergency, protect the safety of the parties and the child, and determine a period for the duration of the temporary order.
When a Florida court is informed that a child custody determination was made in another state having jurisdiction, the Florida court is required to immediately communicate with the court of that state. This obligation to communicate is an essential requirement of the law because it is intended to resolve the emergency, protect the safety of the parties and the child, and determine a period for the duration of the temporary order. Communications between Florida courts and foreign courts are required to be recorded. The parties must be informed promptly of the communication and granted access to the record. The “record” may be an electronic recording or transcription by a court reporter memorializing the communications. Any temporary emergency order is only effective for a specified period of time to allow the person seeking the order to obtain an order from the state having jurisdiction.
The temporary order is only effective until that state issues its own order or until the time period expires. This provision is an essential requirement of the law because other states may retain jurisdiction over a child custody dispute. The Statute expressly contemplates that any order issued by a Florida court is only temporary in nature and is effective only for “a period that the Court considers adequate to allow the person seeking an order to obtain an order from the state having jurisdiction.” Temporary emergency jurisdiction is not intended to be a vehicle for Florida courts to unilaterally – without consultation with the other court – take jurisdiction from an original state having jurisdiction. Temporary emergency jurisdiction is supposed to be temporary, not indefinite.
Kenny Leigh and Associates is a Florida law firm specializing in father’s rights. We have offices throughout the State of Florida, including Boca Raton, that represent men in family law. Go to our website at divorcemenonly.com to learn more.