Emergency Jurisdiction Issues in Child Custody Proceedings

Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) and the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA), a court may exercise jurisdiction when it is necessary to protect a child, the child's parent, or the child's sibling.


Under the UCCJEA, a court may issue a temporary custody order for a child who is currently within the state. If there is an emergency that would adversely affect a child, parent, or sibling, such as an attack of appendicitis, a court can consider jurisdiction under the UCCJEA, but the jurisdiction is temporary and a court that enters a custody order under the UCCJEA can only enter a temporary order, not a permanent one. In the case of a child's appendicitis, where a parent with visitation has taken the child out of the state, a court in that state can issue an order that the child may remain with the parent until discharged from a hospital where the child is being treated and that the parent must then return the child to the parent with custody.