The Tragedy of the Interstate Child: A Critical Reexamination of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act and the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act
Western New England University School of Law
December 21, 2011
UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper, Vol. 25, p. 845, 1992
This Article's thesis is that the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) and the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA) have not eliminated jurisdictional competition because a federal system such as ours cannot achieve both of the Acts' two main instrumental goals - preventing or punishing "child snatching" and promoting well-informed decisions. Our system commits custody decisions to sovereign states, which make and modify the decisions according to indeterminate precepts. Such a system will inevitably create some version of the interstate child; so long as these features of our system persist, legislation cannot solve the problem. Therefore, although this Article proposes amendments, to the UCCJA designed to increase its effectiveness, in the alternative, it urges legislatures to repeal both the UCCJA and the PKPA, in order to eliminate the superfluous delays and transaction costs that impede the courts' search for justice in individual child custody cases. This Article begins by examining the fundamental nature of the problem that these statutes were intended to remedy. It then reviews the history of our understanding of the problem and traces the development of reforming legislation, paying particular attention to the courts' interpretations of the statutes. The Article concludes with proposals for further reform.
Keywords: Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, Parental Kidnaping Prevention Act
Date posted: December 22, 2011