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What is the Uniform Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)?

The UCCJEA (Uniform Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act) is an act that provides us with laws that among other things, dictate what state court should properly exercise subject matter jurisdiction over the issues of custody in your divorce (or paternity action, if applicable). The home state of the child is always applicable. When the family has stayed in Florida, obviously the home state is Florida. In a scenario where a child is living out of state, the Court must determine the proper home state of the child. The UCCJEA which appears in Florida Statutes Chapter 61 Part II, provides that the home state (Florida Statutes Section 61.503(7)) is the place where the child has lived with a parent or person acting as a parent for six (6) consecutive months "immediately before the commencement of a child custody proceeding."

To make matters more confusing, the jurisdiction provision of the UCCJEA (Florida Statutes Section 61.514) provides for subject matter jurisdiction if at any time during the six (6) months preceding the commencement of the action, the state was the home state of the child. Fortunately, the Sarpel case, out of the Fourth District Court of Appeals, helped clarify this issue for us in Florida. It held that the jurisdiction section of the UCCJEA was meant to expand the concept of home state jurisdiction. Home state exercise of jurisdiction is permitted if at any time within six (6) months of the proceeding, Florida qualified as the home state of the child.

You can now hopefully see how perilous your situation could be in terms of being able to obtain proper jurisdiction in your case, if you wait to file. If taking action is the right thing for you, please don't delay it can cause your case to be in a state that is inconvenient for you and your family.

For more information on how to fill out a UCCJEA form for your dissolution and or paternity action, or for assistance with your domestic matter in its entirety the attorneys at Schwam-Wilcox & Associates can assist you, you can contact us by calling 407-245-7700, sending an e-mail to or visiting our website at Home Offices: Orlando


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