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Interstate Timesharing Disputes Under Florida Law

The Florida legislature has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), which is a law that allows Florida courts to exercise temporary emergency jurisdiction over a child who is involved in an interstate custody dispute. (Here, it is important to note that Florida no longer uses the term ‘custody’, instead replacing it with time-sharing. Nevertheless, for purposes of discussing the UCCJEA, the phrase custody is still used.) The goal of the UCCJEA is not to allow a Florida court to unilaterally assume permanent jurisdiction over a child’s custody, but to enter temporary orders in certain emergency situations. The court’s temporary orders are to remain effective only for so long as is needed for the person seeking a timesharing order to obtain an order for the state that has jurisdiction over the child.

Original Child Custody Jurisdiction

A Florida court has jurisdiction under Florida law to make a custody determination about a child only if Florida is the home state of the child. Additionally, if a court in another state has previously made a custody determination, the Florida court must either find that the other state is no longer the child’s home state, or, if it is the child’s home state, the other state’s court must decline to exercise jurisdiction over the child, with Florida being a more appropriate and convenient place to litigate the dispute. The home state of a child is generally the state in which the child has resided for six months prior to the beginning of the child custody litigation, or, if the child is absent from the state, where a parent or person acting as a parent continues to live in the state.

Temporary Emergency Jurisdiction

Despite the home state requirements described above, a Florida court can exercise temporary emergency jurisdiction over a child who is in the state of Florida and who has been abandoned. Likewise, a Florida court can exercise this type of temporary jurisdiction pursuant to the UCCJEA if necessary to protect the child and/or his sibling or parent from abuse, mistreatment, or threats of abuse or mistreatment.

Other States’ Custody Proceedings and Orders

When a Florida court exercises temporary emergency jurisdiction under the UCCJEA, it must immediately contact and communicate with the court in the other state that has a child custody proceeding or has issued a child custody order concerning the child. This allows the courts of the two states to work together to resolve the emergency, protect all parties involved, and determine how long the Florida court’s temporary order should remain in place.

Consult Vanessa L. Prieto, Your Florida Family Law Attorney, for Help Today

Interstate child custody disputes are rarely easy or uncomplicated, and the Florida laws that govern these disputes are complex, as well. Don’t allow your rights to be prejudiced in a child custody case by trying to go it alone. Instead, get the experienced and skilled family law representation that you need in order to prevail in your legal proceedings. Call a Fort Lauderdale family law attorney at the office of Vanessa Prieto and arrange for us to handle the legal aspects of your case, while you focus on the well-being of your children. Contact us today, and set up a consultation regarding your interstate child custody dispute or other family law matter.