Veteran child custody attorneys know how complex interstate custody disputes can become. The Maryland Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act brings “some order to the chaos” by avoiding jurisdictional conflict amongst states that could otherwise exercise jurisdiction over a particular child custody dispute.
Under the Act, which has been enacted by all fifty states, two or more states may have jurisdiction at the same time. The Act envisions that one of the states which has jurisdiction will decline to exercise it after finding that (1) the state is an inconvenient forum to make the custody determination and (2) a court of another state is a more appropriate forum.
“ In Krebs vs Krebs, the opinion focused on the process by which judges communicate with each other and exchange information.
A recent decision by Maryland’s highest appeals court illustrates a critical step in this process.
In Krebs vs Krebs, the opinion focused on the process by which judges in states with competing jurisdiction communicate with each other and exchange information. This is usually done via a telephone conference that usually results in one jurisdiction declining jurisdiction and the other accepting it.
The Krebs case involved a child who had left his mother’s home in Arizona to spend the summer in Maryland with his father. After a custody dispute arose involving these two states, the judges in Maryland and Arizona conferred and decided that the Maryland Court should resolve the dispute. Custody was awarded to the Maryland father.
The Maryland Court of Appeals refused to consider the merits of the Arizona mother’s argument that the result of the judges’ conference, conferring sole jurisdiction on Maryland, violated the Act. The Court ruled that if Mother wanted to appeal that issue, she needed to appeal that issue in the Arizona courts.
This result is an example of how complex interstate custody disputes can become and a reminder of how the conference between judges under the Act can be pivotal in determining the final results.