MEETING OPTIONS DURING THE CORONAVIRUS: The Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen understands your concerns regarding the spread of the Coronavirus, and now offers different meeting options to our clients and those seeking legal representation. All meetings, including initial consultations, can be handled either through the phone, FaceTime, Zoom, or in person.

Jurisdiction Over Interference With Custody

Taking and concealing a child has been taken and concealed from the other parent, caretaker or agency with authority is a crime in New Jersey. If the concealing is for the purpose of protecting the child or protecting the parent taking the child, filing a custody proceeding can be a defense to criminal prosecution. It depends on the facts of the case.

Absent an emergency circumstance, courts may not make a custody decision if that court is not in the child’s home state. In simple terms, “home state” is where the child has resided with a parent or caretaker for six consecutive months preceding the action or the jurisdiction where the child has most significant contacts. If the child or parent is at imminent risk of harm from the other parent, an out-of-state court may take limited jurisdiction for the purpose of protection of parent and child, but the case will ultimately be decided in the home state of the child. The custody proceeding may also be filed as an interstate action and, sometimes, must be filed as an interstate action.

The History of Interstate Custody Jurisdiction

There was a time when states had different and conflicting rules on what court had authority to make determinations in custody proceedings, resulting in different custody orders in different jurisdiction for the same child. It was a complete nightmare. Even after efforts to make a uniform set of rules for all states for custody nationwide, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA), there were still inconsistencies, and all states did not accept the UCCJA.

The next attempt to cure the inconsistencies in custody jurisdiction between states was a federal effort at conformity, the Parental Kidnapping Protection Act (PKPA). Among other things, the PKPA established home state jurisdiction as the standard to be used nationwide. Because federal law trumps state law, the PKPA continued things in the right direction, but surely did not cure all the problems. Home state jurisdiction, as defined above, eliminated one parent moving the child out of state and getting the new state to make a new custody order with different results than an existing order.

The most recent set of rules with a goal of consistent custody jurisdiction between states, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), came about at approximately the same time that the PKPA took effect on a federal basis. Most all states have now accepted the UCCJEA. For interstate custody disputes and for questions of jurisdiction between states, the UCCJEA is used, together with any portions of the PKPA that trump it.

Part of the UCCJEA requires courts in different jurisdictions to contact each other to determine which court has proper jurisdiction, with the courts putting any pending case on hold until that determination is made. In addition, the UCCJEA acted to cure the problem of jurisdiction over a child less than six months old. There are still circumstances that do not give clear jurisdiction on infants under six months, for example if the child has moved during that six months or the child happens to have been born outside of the home state. But as a whole, the UCCJEA is a vast improvement over the UCCJA, and the enforcement portion of it has been a very beneficial addition.

The UCCJA has not cured all problems. Sometimes, a court may be unwilling to forfeit jurisdiction to the proper court or emergency jurisdiction can be improperly taken, among other things. Though, overall, the UCCJEA has been a boon to eliminate jurisdictional problems and provide consistent treatment in interstate custody proceedings.

If you need to discuss the interference with custody or interstate custody, call the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen for a free initial consultation at 201-845-7400.

Client Reviews
Peter has integrity, and values his relationships with his clients beyond his financial relationship with them. For me to say this about any lawyer is really saying something. He is compassionate, straightforward and knowledgeable. I would easily recommend him to anybody. Lewie W.
Peter Van Aulen handled my case with great diligence and integrity. He is also a compassionate individual who realizes what a difficult time divorce can be emotionally. Peter works hard and doesn't take any shortcuts in preparing for a case… I highly recommend Mr. Van Aulen and his staff. Chuck Solomon
Peter is an exceptionally great attorney. He handled my child custody case and was able to ease any of my concerns with honest answers. He always took the time to explain the pros/cons and was always available to answer any questions that I had… I would highly recommend this attorney to anyone who is looking for one. Jessica Cruz
Peter Van Aulen is a very compassionate, honest and straightforward person. He was there for me at my lowest point with a genuine concern not only for my situation, but for me and my child's well being above all… He is fair and he is strong and when push comes to shove he is there for you. Cathy Dodge
Our cousin used Peter's law office to help with a sticky custody situation. He was extremely responsive, very nice and most importantly did an awesome job with the court! He is awesome. Lawrence Polsky

*Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances