The most serious custody emergency occurs when one parent removes the child or children from the state without leave of court. A common scenario involves an unmarried couple that breaks up. One party takes the children and leaves the state to start a new life. The other party may beg for their return to no avail. What cam be done?
Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and
Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)
A parent whose child is taken out of state has recourse via the UCCJEA. Under the UCCJEA, a child has a home state for determination of child custody.
What is a Home State Under The UCCJEA?
Under the Illinois UCCJEA, “Home state” means the state in which a child lived with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least six consecutive months immediately before the commencement of a child-custody proceeding. In the case of a child less than six months of age, the term means the state in which the child lived from birth with any of the persons mentioned. A period of temporary absence of any of the mentioned persons is part of the period.
Important to Act Right Away
If your child has been removed from the state how long should you wait to file something in court? You should not wait. You should file your case right away. Why? Because the longer you wait, the more likely it is that a different court could assume jurisdiction. Even if Illinois is the home state, Illinois can essentially agree to give jurisdiction to another state for various reasons, the main one being that the children have been in the new state for such a long time that the new state should decide all issues of custody, visitation and support.
Not many attorneys have experience with the UCCJEA. In fact, just recently I became involved in two cases where the first attorney botched a number of steps, resulting in unnecessary legal fees for my clients and no results. In one instant, the first attorney filed an improper emergency petition, which was denied. The client retained me, I filed the proper petition, and now he has an order for the return of his child. In the second case, my client filed a case in California as soon as his ex left with his child. Six months after moving the child, his ex filed a case in Illinois without telling the California court that a case had already been filed. He retained an attorney who gave him bad advice, which significantly delayed his case. Now his case is on the right track, and his jurisdictional issues have been advanced for a hearing. If you have a UCCJEA case don’t waste your money on an attorney who doesn’t have a proven track record.
If you are currently involved in an interstate custody battle, or believe you might be headed for one, you should contact me right away. You can call me now at 708-466-6912 or contact me online. I often meet clients in the evening and on weekends, and all clients get my personal mobile phone number. Legal problems don’t take weekends off and neither do I.
I represent clients in Chicago, and elsewhere in Illinois including the counties of Cook, Lake, DuPage, Will, Kane, Kendall, and McHenry. I represent clients in uncontested and contested divorces, and other family law matters including paternity, visitation and child support.