The Hague Convention is not an exclusive remedy. This means that parents may use other laws to seek return of, or access to, a child that is in the United States. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”), is a uniform state law which has been enacted in some form in 49 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the District of Columbia. The UCCJEA requires state courts to enforce child custody and visitation determinations made in a foreign country where the foreign court substantially conformed with the UCCJEA’s jurisdictional standards, as long as the parties had notice and opportunity to be heard. Only limited defenses apply. The act provides expedited enforcement proceduresfor enforcement, and procedures to register custody and visitation determinations in advance of enforcement. The UCCJEA also regulates when a court in the United States has jurisdiction to make or modify a custody order, and when to defer to courts in other states or countries.
Citations to each U.S. state’s version of the UCCJEA laws can be found here.
More Information about the UCCJEA
For more information about the UCCJEA, OJJDP Bulletin (2001): click here.
When you have a choice between using the Hague Convention (if you are in a country that is a treaty partner of the United States), or filing an action under the UCCJEA to enforce a foreign custody/access order, you and your attorney will decide the best strategy to achieve your objectives. (It may be possible to request both remedies in the alternative.) The following is a list of comparisons between the Hague Abduction Convention and the UCCJEA. This is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. You should always discuss your case with your attorney before taking any actions. Your attorney will advise you about your state’s law, which may differ from the uniform act.
Abduction cases where no court order exists