The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) is an important set of laws adopted by most states which seeks to avoid conflicting orders from different state courts in child custody cases and promotes cooperation between state courts. The appellate case Haugabook v. Jeffcoat-Hultberg, 219 So.3d 65 (Fla. 2016) illustrates the importance of the UCCJEA.
In this case, the child at issue lived in Florida since birth and his mother had custody of him his entire life. At one point, his mother dropped him off at his paternal great-grandparent‘s house in Florida with an agreement to pick him up two months later. The day before the child was scheduled to be picked up, the child’s father picked him up and took him to Georgia where the father’s cousin filed a dependency action in that state. The mother then filed an emergency petition for return of the child to Florida which was denied.
On appeal, the court considered the provisions of the UCCJEA and determined that ultimately the Florida trial court erred in denying the mother's petition where no transcript or record of the Florida court's communication with the Georgia court was provided despite the mother requesting the same. Under the UCCJEA, if a Florida court having jurisdiction over a child custody matter declines to exercise jurisdiction and chooses to communicate with the another state court in making this determination, the court must allow the parties to participate in the communication and must record the communication. Failure of the court to do so in this case required reversal of the court's denial of the mother's petition.
Knowing what to file and when to file it is crucial to preserving your rights in a Miami Family Law case. a consultation with a Miami child custody lawyer may help you decide the best way to move forward based on the specific facts of your case.