The Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (herein: “UCCJEA”) is found in Michigan Compiled Laws section 722.1101. The UCCJEA was designed, among other things to resolve conflicts relating to jurisdiction in a child custody action by prioritizing the home state of a child. The UCCJEA also clarifies continuing jurisdiction for the state that entered the child-custody decree.
In simple terms, the UCCJEA provides the authority for a court to decide a child custody action when a child moves from the state deciding a child custody case to another state. This is the foundation for the term “jurisdiction”, which is defined as: “the official power to make legal decisions and judgments.” In this article, we will discuss the UCCJEA and specifically, how to register a child custody action under the UCCJEA.
The UCCJEA provides [MCL 722.1201(1)]that a state has jurisdiction to make an initial child-custody determination if:
(a) This state is the home state of the child on the date of the commencement of the proceeding, or was the home state of the child within 6 months before the commencement of the proceeding and the child is absent from this state but a parent or a person acting as a parent continues to live in this state.
(b) A court of another state does not have jurisdiction under subdivision (a), or a court of the home state of the child has declined to exercise jurisdiction on the ground that this state is the more appropriate forum . . and the court finds both of the following:
(i) The child and the child’s parents, or the child and at least 1 parent or a person acting as a parent, have a significant connection with this state other than mere physical presence.
(ii) Substantial evidence is available in this state concerning the child’s care, protection, training, and personal relationships.
In general, a court may not modify a child-custody determination entered by a court of another state unless the court “has jurisdiction to make an initial child-custody determination under the UCCJEA [MCL 722.1201(a) or (b)]” and either “[t]he court of the other state determines it no longer has exclusive, continuing jurisdiction under the UCCJEA [MCL 722.1202]” or either court “determines that neither the child, nor a parent of the child, nor a person acting as a parent presently resides in the other state.” MCL 722.1203.
Under the UCCJEA [MCL 722.1304(1)], child-custody determinations issued by a court in another state may be registered in Michigan “with or without a simultaneous request for enforcement.” To register a determination “means to comply with the procedures of [MCL 722.1304] to make a child-custody determination enforceable in this state.” MCL 722.1102(o).
The UCCJEA [MCL 722.1304(1)] requires that the person seeking registration send the following to the circuit court:
- A letter or other document requesting registration.
- Two copies, including 1 certified copy, of the child-custody determination sought to be registered, and a statement under penalty of perjury that, to the best of the knowledge and belief of the person seeking registration, the child-custody determination has not been modified.
- Except as otherwise provided in [MCL 722.1209], the name and address of the person seeking registration and of each parent or person acting as a parent who has been awarded custody or parenting time in the child-custody determination sought to be registered.
When the circuit court has received these documents, the court must do both of the following under MCL 722.1304(2):
(a) Cause the child-custody determination to be filed as a foreign judgment, together with 1 copy of any accompanying documents and information, regardless of form.
(b) Serve notice upon the persons named under subsection (1)
(c) and provide them with an opportunity to contest the registration in accordance with this section.
The notice provided to persons who have been awarded custody or parenting time in the child-custody determination is required to state all of the following:
(a) A registered child-custody determination is enforceable as of the date of the registration in the same manner as a child-custody determination issued by a court of this state.
(b) A hearing to contest the validity of the registered child-custody determination must be requested within 21 days after service of notice.
(c) Failure to contest the registration will result in conformation of the child-custody determination and preclude further contest of that child-custody determination with respect to a matter that could have been asserted. [MCL 722.1304(3).]
Absent a timely request for a hearing to contest the registration, “the registration is confirmed as a matter of law.” MCL 722.1304(5).
We recognize that registering a child custody determination is not always easy. We are here to help.
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I have been exclusively practicing divorce and family law in Michigan for over two decades. The attorneys at Findling Law all share the core value of practicing law to help people navigate change in their lives, without compromising principles. We are compassionate, creative and always prepared. We specialize in high socio-economic, high-profile and high-conflict cases, while also working with clients of all backgrounds. We recognize that the most important aspect of the practice of law is the application of the law to your specific circumstances.That is why we provide more free information on divorce and family law than any other Michigan law firm. We want to help you manage your situation. Allow our exceptional legal team to help you navigate the change in your life, without compromising principles.
By: Daniel Findling