Creve Coeur & O’Fallon, MO UCCJEA Attorneys
The very first question a court must address in any custody dispute is the issue of jurisdiction – which means whether the court has the authority to grant the requested relief. To address the issue of jurisdiction, Missouri enacted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, or UCCJEA.
The purpose of the UCCJEA is to provide one and only one court in the world to have the ability to consider custody issues in a particular case. Often parents live in different states, and even different countries, after separating, and one parent may want “home court advantage” or wish to find a state where the parent believes the law would be more favorable on a particular issue. To prevent this type of forum shopping, the UCCJEA designates the “home state” of the child as the exclusive forum for deciding custody matters. The home state is the state in which the child has resided for the six months preceding the filing of a custody action. So, as an example, if husband and wife living in Missouri separate and wife moves with the children to Illinois, wife may decide to file in Illinois right away so that Illinois may decide custody. However, if the children have not lived in Illinois for at least six months, Missouri will remain the home state and the presumptive forum to hear the case.
A key feature of the UCCJEA is that once a court obtains jurisdiction over a case, it retains that jurisdiction exclusively unless and until some other court becomes a more convenient forum. So, for example, if a husband and wife dissolve their marriage in Missouri, and in the next two years the husband relocates to Minnesota and the wife relocates to Texas, and the children move with the husband, the children will no longer have ties to Missouri and Missouri will no longer be their home state. With neither party living in Missouri, it might make sense for Minnesota to become the new forum to hear a custody matter – but that is something that a party must request and the courts in Missouri and Minnesota must decide together.
As you can see, when you and the other parent live in different states or different countries, deciding the right forum to hear your custody case can be a major and difficult decision. Losing a forum may mean having to travel hundreds or thousands of miles to litigate your case. It is critically important you hire someone with the experience and expertise to handle these matters at the outset so you do not waste resources in a court that may not have jurisdiction to enter a custody order.
Only a skilled and experienced attorney can properly advise you as to your rights with regard to the UCCJEA and protect those rights in a legal proceeding.
At The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C, we have over fifty years of combined experience handling family law matters. We help individuals understand their rights with regard to all issues, including the UCCJEA. We have particular expertise in this area. We have handled hundreds of trials before family court judges; if you choose The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C., you will have the benefit of a divorce attorney unafraid to go to court, advocate on your behalf and fully present your case.
Time to Act
Time is of the essence. As soon as you select The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C. to represent you, we will immediately put our considerable experience and resources to work on your case. The sooner we can review the necessary information, the sooner we can formulate a strategy for your unique circumstances, helping to ensure the best possible outcome.
Contact The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C.
Send us an email or call us at 314-993-6300 for an initial consultation with one of our experienced Creve Coeur & O’Fallon, MO family law attorneys.