New Jersey’s Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act

The New Jersey Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) is a law designed to prevent one parent from choosing a more favorable jurisdiction for a custody case to be heard. The UCCJEA is also meant to avoid interstate child custody disputes and promote the cooperation of states with respect to matters related to child custody. All states have adopted some variation of the UCCJEA, and while certain provisions may differ from one state to the next, the basic provisions are essentially the same.

The UCCJEA grants jurisdiction over a child custody matter to the state with which the child has the most significant contacts. Typically, at least one parent and the child must reside in the state of New Jersey for a New Jersey court to issue a custody order for that child, and there must be substantial evidence available in the state about the child’s care, living environment, and personal relationships. In fact, for New Jersey to be the home state of a child, the child either must be a resident of the state for at least six months prior to the custody action or was a resident of the state for six months before a parent claiming custody removed him or her from the state.

There are some exceptions, however, to these general rules. For instance, if a child is physically abandoned in New Jersey and in need of protection from actual or potential mistreatment, abuse, or neglect, a New Jersey court can exercise emergency jurisdiction over the child in issuing a custody order. This type of order usually only lasts so long as the child is in immediate need of protection. Likewise, if it is in a child’s overall best interest for a custody case to be heard in a particular jurisdiction, then it is possible that no other jurisdiction would have the authority to hear the case.

Child custody cases are often complicated, lengthy, emotional, and stressful, and when multiple states are involved, these cases become even more difficult. No matter how complex the issues in your case may be, we are here to help. The attorneys of Argentino Family Law & Child Advocacy, LLC, have handled cases involving all aspects of divorce, child custody, and family law, as well as cases involving other matters related to families and children. Please contact the experienced New Jersey family and child lawyers at our office if you have any legal questions about children and your family.