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July 2014 Archives

Interstate Child Custody Jurisdiction -- the UCCJEA (©Bruce Clement)


The Purpose of the UCCJEA

All states have enacted the basic form of the UCCJEA. The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws has stated: "There is growing public concern over the fact that thousands of children are shifted from state to state and from one family to another every year while their parents or other persons battle over their custody in the courts of several states...A young child may have been moved to another state repeatedly before the case goes to court. When a decree has been rendered awarding custody to one of the parties, this is by no means the end of the child's migrations. It is well known that those who lose a court battle over custody are often unwilling to accept the judgment of the court. They will remove the child in an unguarded moment or fail to return him after a visit and will seek their luck in a distant state where they hope to find -- and often do find -- a more sympathetic ear for their plea for custody."

Overview: What's the Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce?

A quick and easy way to explain a legal separation is that for most practical purposes, it is the same as a dissolution of marriage (commonly called a "divorce"). In both proceedings a petition is filed, the opposing party is served, temporary orders can be entered, and final orders can be entered by agreement or by conducting a trial. In both proceedings all relevant issues are resolved: the division of property and debts, child custody and visitation, child support, spousal maintenance, name change and restraining orders. The only big difference is that after a divorce the parties are no longer married; after a legal separation they are. For that reason, neither party is free to re-marry after a legal separation.