Virginia, among 49 other states, implemented the 1997 UCCJEA Law, or Uniformed Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Law, which hands jurisdiction to either the “home state” or the state with “significant connections.”
“Home state” by definition is the state where the child last lived for six months or longer, or the child’s birthplace if that child is under six months old. What is important to note is that a state can remain the child’s home state for legal purposes even if the child is not currently living there, as long as a parent still lives in the state.
In the event there is no home state or the home state rules to not exercise jurisdiction, then “significant connections” comes into play. This second aspect of the UCCJEA rule is very interesting. For such a state to qualify for “significant connections” jurisdiction, clear and plausible connections to that state must be existent. Specifically, there must be “substantial evidence about the child’s care, protection, training and personal relationships.”
One important point of UCCJEA is to prevent a parent with legal intentions from attempting to relocate in haste and then file for custody or visitation rights. The UCCJEA replaces the UCCJA, and as such, it reinforces more consistently and clearly the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act as to determine proper jurisdiction in Child Custody and Visitation cases.
Your child custody case starts here. Call our Williamsburg office at (757) 941-4298 or our Richmond office at (804) 325-1245 and sit down with one of our Virginia attorneys who will assist you in your navigation.