The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) governs the jurisdiction of state courts' to make and modify any "child custody determinations," which expressly includes orders of custody and visitation. In order to determine if New York has the proper authority to make an initial determination of child custody, the UCCJEA proceeds in the following manner:
1. New York is the child's home state when the custody proceedings began, or if it was their home state in the six months prior to the beginning of the proceedings and one parent continues to live in the state
2. If a court of another state does not have jurisdiction under DRL 76(1)(a) or a court has declined to exercise jurisdiction because they have determined New York to be a more appropriate forum based on DRL 76-f or 76-g and the child and at least one parent have significant connection to New York and there is substantial that this state is dominate in the child's care, protection, training or education, and personal relationships
3. If all courts that have jurisdiction under DRL 76(1)(a) or a court in the child's home state have declined to exercise jurisdiction because they believe New York to be a more appropriate forum for determining custody under DRL 76-f or 76-g
4. Or, if no court in any other state has jurisdiction under the criteria listed above.
The purpose of UCCJEA is to avoid simultaneous proceedings in two states or the unlawful modification of a court order in a state that does not possess proper authority. UCCJEA helps to protect parents' rights in custody battles and works in accordance with the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act. If you believe your rights have been violated under UCCJEA, it is important that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible. To learn more about custody laws, visit the Custody page on our site.