The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, in conjunction with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, is designed to promote the best interests of the child in a custody decision and to prevent parental abduction into other jurisdictions.
Prior to the establishment of the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, some parents attempted to avoid or nullify custody decisions in one state by moving to another and obtaining a different court order. The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act invalidates this attempt by mandating that all states give Full Faith and Credit to the custody determination of the “home state.”
How is the “Home State” Determined?
The "home state" is the state in which the child lived with his or her parents, parent or person acting as parent for at least six consecutive months or since birth. Periods of temporary absence of any such persons are counted as part of the six-month or other period.
How Long is the Home State’s Jurisdiction Enforced?
The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act prioritizes the home state jurisdiction and authorizes continuing, exclusive jurisdiction as long as one parent or the child remains in that jurisdiction.
Can the Determination Ever Be Changed?
A court of another state can modify an original home state court determination if:
- It has jurisdiction to make such a child custody determination AND
- The court of the other state no longer has jurisdiction or has declined to exercise such jurisdiction to modify the determination.
Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act Precedence
The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act takes precedence over any contrary state laws. This means if there is a conflict between the rules of one state and the rules of the federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, the federal Act will control.
Enforcement of the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act
The home state court’s custody or visitation determination can be enforced by any of the methods normally available under state law for enforcement of custody judgments, including:
- Habeas corpus - a special request to bring someone before the Court.
- Civil action - a lawsuit filed in Court
- Petition on motion - a request for the Court to do something
Do I Need a Family Attorney Experienced in Child Custody and Visitation?
If you are facing any conflicts in your child’s custody determination, it is generally wise to consult with an attorney. A family lawyer has experience dealing with the complicated court system and can work to protect your relationship with your child.