Child No Longer Had Sufficient Connection to New York State—Custody-Enforcement Petition Properly Dismissed
The Third Department determined mother’s custody-enforcement petition was properly dismissed for lack of jurisdiction because the child no longer had a sufficient connection to New York. The court noted that both Title II (jurisdiction) and Title III (enforcement) of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) applied:
The mother’s main argument is that Family Court erred in applying title II of the UCCJEA, entitled “[j]urisdiction,” rather than title III, entitled “[e]nforcement.” While title III is not limited to enforcement of out-of-state custody determinations, and its “mechanisms . . . are presumptively available in any enforcement action” (Merril Sobie, Practice Commentaries, McKinney’s Cons Laws of NY, Book 14, Domestic Relations Law § 77, at 563; see Domestic Relations Law § 77), several of the sections within title III do refer or apply to custody determinations issued by courts in other states (see e.g. Domestic Relations Law §§ 77-b, 77-d, 77-e, 77-l). Similarly, title II has sections dealing with initial custody determinations and modification determinations (see Domestic Relations Law §§ 76, 76-b), neither of which is sought by the petition here, but the title overall is broader than those sections. Simply because the mother’s petition seeks enforcement of a custody determination, rather than modification, does not mean that the title addressing enforcement must be relied upon independently and exclusively, without any possible reference to the title addressing jurisdiction. Instead, courts can apply both the jurisdiction and enforcement portions of the UCCJEA, where applicable.
A New York court that made a child custody determination “has exclusive, continuing jurisdiction over the determination until . . . a court of this state determines that neither the child, [nor] the child and one parent, . . . have a significant connection with this state and that substantial evidence is no longer available in this state concerning the child’s care, protection, training, and personal relationships” (Domestic Relations Law § 76-a  [a]). Here, Family Court determined that the child had lived in Georgia with the father for more than two years and all of her medical and educational records and providers are in Georgia . While the mother and other family members reside in New York, the child did not return to New York — for visitation or any other reason — during the years that she was living in Georgia … . Thus, neither the child nor the father had a significant connection with New York, and substantial evidence regarding “the child’s care, protection, training, and personal relationships” is located in Georgia rather than New York (Domestic Relations Law § 76-a  [a]). According to the statute, after this determination, New York courts no longer have exclusive, continuing jurisdiction over the divorce judgment determining custody. Due to this determination, Family Court properly dismissed the mother’s petition for lack of jurisdiction … . Matter of Wengenroth v McGuire, 2015 NY Slip Op 02818, 3rd Dept 4-2-15