Family Law

How Do Uniform State Laws for Family Law Work?

What Is a Uniform Law?

Laws that affect family relations—such as marriage, divorce, and adoption—typically differ from state to state. For example, laws that govern the division of marital assets upon divorce differ between states that use principles of equitable distribution and those that use the community property system.

Historically, these differences did not pose too many problems for people because moving to another state was rare. Today, moving between states is not only easier but is also somewhat expected given the interstate and even international nature of business.

To address the jurisdictional and legal conflicts between states, uniform state laws were proposed to resolve issues common issues that arose. Uniform laws allowed state courts to smoothly, efficiently, and effectively coordinate with each other to recognize and enforce their rulings if necessary.

In 1892, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform States Laws—also known as the Uniform Law Commission (ULC)—was formed to develop and provide states with laws each state could adopt to help make interstate legal issues easier to handle. It is important to note that nothing requires states to adopt uniform laws. Furthermore, acts developed by the ULC aren’t federal laws that override state law. As a result, few uniform laws apply to all fifty states.

Uniform Laws Affecting Every State

As interstate travel became more commonplace, the imperative to establish a uniform set of laws regarding certain family law issues became apparent. In particular, child custody and child support orders were vulnerable to jurisdictional conflicts if a parent moved with a child to another state. Without a coordinated and uniform judicial enforcement system between states, parental abduction cases—where a parent abducts their child and brings them to another state—would wreak havoc on the family law system.

As a result, virtually all states have adopted the provisions of the following uniform state laws:

  • The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA): This law affects the enforcement of child support orders between states. All fifty states have enacted the UIFSA.
  • The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA): This act establishes rules for the enforcement of child custody orders between states. As of 2019, only Massachusetts has not enacted the UCCJEA’s provisions. However, a bill was introduced this year (SB886/HD400) to enact the UCCJEA.
  • The Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA): This uniform law governs property transfers to individuals under 18. South Carolina has not enacted the UTMA, but a bill was introduced (SB 696) in 2019 to ratify its provisions.

Uniform Laws Adopted in New York

Other than the laws mentioned above, New York has adopted some uniform laws that only a few states have enacted, including:

  • The Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act (UAGPPJA): All states except Florida, Kansas, and Texas have enacted this law.
  • The Uniform Disposition of Community Property Rights at Death Act: This law governs property division for couples who acquire community property before to moving to a non-community property state—such as New York—and filing for divorce. Only Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming have adopted this act.

Get Legal Representation from The Law Office of Tzvi Y. Hagler, P.C.

In today’s age, interstate jurisdictional issues can complicate divorce proceedings. An effective family law practitioner must be familiar with uniform laws that touch upon interstate family law matters, and those issues where there is no interstate uniform law. At the Law Office of Tzvi Y. Hagler, P.C., you can count on us to provide comprehensive legal representation for your case.

Call us at (516) 514-3868 or contact us online today for a consultation.