Resolving custody disputes between parents who live in different jurisdictions is particularly complicated. Before even getting to the dispute over where the child should live, the parties and courts must decide where the case is decided. Fortunately federal guidance as to which state should hear a custody case was created in the form of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”) a federal statute aimed at determining which state should have authority over a child custody case. Nearly every state in the U.S. ( along with the District of Columbia, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands), except Massachusetts has adopted the UCCJEA by passing its own state law incorporating the language of the UCCJEA. In Hawaii, the Hawaii Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act is located in Hawaii Revised Statutes section 583A.
Cases related to a parent traveling (or moving, or fleeing) to another country after orders are made, are typically addressed under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This is an especially complex area of law, often involving an intersection of state, federal, and international law. In these types of cases, it is especially important to find an experienced custody attorney to assist you.