Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act (UCAPA)
Suggested State Legislation: The Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act (UCAPA) provides states with a valuable tool for deterring both domestic and international child abductions by parents and people acting on behalf of the parents. The UCAPA complements and strengthens the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), which is law in 48 states, and the federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA). The Act allows the court to impose measures designed to prevent child abduction both before and after a court has entered a custody decree.
Under the Act, an Action for abduction prevention measures may be brought either by a court on its own motion, by a party to a child-custody determination or an individual with a right to seek such a determination, or by a prosecutor or public attorney. The party seeking the abduction prevention measures must file a petition with the court specifying the risk factors for abduction as well as other relevant information. Courts will rule on the petition based on a variety of factors enumerated in the Act and impose appropriate mechanisms to prevent abduction. The Act also addresses the special problems involved with international child abduction by including several risk factors specifically related to international situations.
The Act was promulgated by the Uniform Law Commission in 2006. The model uniform Act with official commentary (which also serves as legislative history) can be found at:
Seven states enacted the UCAPA into law during its initial (2007) legislative year:
• Colorado: HB 1255; Colo. Rev. Stat. 14-13.5-101
• Kansas: SB 18
• Louisiana: SB 73 (Partial Enactment)
• Nebraska: LB 341; Nev. Rev. Stat. 43-1230
• Nevada: AB 15
• South Dakota: SB 88
• Utah: SB 35; Utah Code Ann. 78-62-101 (et al)
The version in this SSL volume is based on Kansas law.
Status: Enacted into law on April 5, 2007.
Suggested State Legislation: 2009 Docket
(Title, enacting clause, etc.)
Section 1. [Short Title.] This Act may be cited as “The Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act.”
Section 2. In this Act:
(1) ‘‘Abduction’’ means the wrongful removal or wrongful retention of a child.
(2) ‘‘Child’’ means an unemancipated individual who is less than 18 years of age.
(3) ‘‘Child-custody determination’’ means a judgment, decree, or other order of a court providing for the legal custody, physical custody, or visitation with respect to a child. The term includes a permanent, temporary, initial, and modification order.
(4) ‘‘Child-custody proceeding’’ means a proceeding in which legal custody, physical custody, or visitation with respect to a child is at issue. The term includes a proceeding for divorce, dissolution of marriage, separation, neglect, abuse, dependency, guardianship, paternity, termination of parental rights, or protection from domestic violence.
(5) ‘‘Court’’ means an entity authorized under the law of a state to establish, enforce, or modify a child-custody determination.
(6) ‘‘Petition’’ includes a motion or its equivalent.
(8) ‘‘State’’ means a state of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, or any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. The term includes a federally recognized Indian tribe or nation.
(9) ‘‘Travel document’’ means records relating to a travel itinerary, including travel tickets, passes, reservations for transportation, or accommodations. The term does not include a passport or visa.
(10) ‘‘Wrongful removal’’ means the taking of a child that breaches rights of custody or visitation given or recognized under the law of this state.
(11) ‘‘Wrongful retention’’ means the keeping or concealing of a child that breaches rights of custody or visitation given or recognized under the law of this state.
Section 3. [Insert citation], applies to cooperation and communications among courts in proceedings under this Act.
(a) A court on its own motion may order abduction prevention measures in a child-custody proceeding if the court finds that the evidence establishes a credible risk of abduction of the child.
(b) A party to a child-custody determination or another individual or entity having a right under the law of this state or any other state to seek a child-custody determination for the child may file a petition seeking abduction prevention measures to protect the child under this Act.
(c) A prosecutor or public authority designated under [insert citation] may seek a warrant to take physical custody of a child under section 9, and amendments thereto, or other appropriate prevention measures.
(a) A petition under this Act may be filed only in a court that has jurisdiction to make a child-custody determination with respect to the child at issue under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction And Enforcement Act, [insert citation], and amendments thereto.
(b) A court of this state has temporary emergency jurisdiction under [insert citation] and amendments thereto, if the court finds a credible risk of abduction.
Section 6. A petition under this Act must be verified and include a copy of any existing child-custody determination, if available. The petition must specify the risk factors for abduction, including the relevant factors described in section 7, and amendments thereto. Subject to [insert citation], if reasonably ascertainable, the petition must contain:
(1) the name, date of birth, and gender of the child;
(2) the customary address and current physical location of the child;
(3) the identity, customary address, and current physical location of the respondent;
(4) a statement of whether a prior action to prevent abduction or domestic violence has been filed by a party or other individual or entity having custody of the child, and the date, location, and disposition of the action;
(5) a statement of whether a party to the proceeding has been arrested for a crime related to domestic violence, stalking, or child abuse or neglect, and the date, location, and disposition of the case; and
(6) any other information required to be submitted to the court for a child-custody determination under [insert citation], and amendments thereto.
(a) In determining whether there is a credible risk of abduction of a child, the court shall consider any evidence that the petitioner or respondent:
(1) has previously abducted or attempted to abduct the child;
(2) has threatened to abduct the child;
(3) has recently engaged in activities that may indicate a planned abduction, including:
(A) abandoning employment;
(B) selling a primary residence;
(C) terminating a lease;
(D) closing bank or other financial management accounts, liquidating assets, hiding or destroying financial documents, or conducting any unusual financial activities;
(E) applying for a passport or visa or obtaining travel documents for the respondent, a family member, or the child; or
(F) seeking to obtain the child’s birth certificate or school or medical records;
(4) has engaged in domestic violence, stalking, or child abuse or neglect;
(5) has refused to follow a child-custody determination;
(6) lacks strong familial, financial, emotional, or cultural ties to the state or the United States;
(7) has strong familial, financial, emotional, or cultural ties to another state or country;
(8) is likely to take the child to a country that:
(A) is not a party to the Hague Convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction and does not provide for the extradition of an abducting parent or for the return of an abducted child;
(B) is a party to the Hague Convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction but:
(i) the Hague Convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction is not in force between the United States and that country;
(ii) is noncompliant according to the most recent compliance report issued by the United States department of state; or
(iii) lacks legal mechanisms for immediately and effectively enforcing a return order under the Hague Convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction;
(C) poses a risk that the child’s physical or emotional health or safety would be endangered in the country because of specific circumstances relating to the child or because of human rights violations committed against children;
(D) has laws or practices that would:
( i) enable the respondent, without due cause, to prevent the petitioner from contacting the child;
(ii) restrict the petitioner from freely traveling to or exiting from the country because of the petitioner’s gender, nationality, marital status, or religion; or
(iii) restrict the child’s ability legally to leave the country after the child reaches the age of majority because of a child’s gender, nationality, or religion;
(E) is included by the United States Department of State on a current list of state sponsors of terrorism;
(F) does not have an official United States diplomatic presence in the country; or
(G) is engaged in active military action or war, including a civil war, to which the child may be exposed;
adversely affect the respondent’s ability to remain in the United States legally;
(10) has had an application for United States citizenship denied;
(11) has forged or presented misleading or false evidence on government forms or Security Card, a driver’s license, or other government-issued identification card or has made a misrepresentation to the United States government;
(12) has used multiple names to attempt to mislead or defraud; or
(13) has engaged in any other conduct the court considers relevant to the risk of abduction.
(b) In the hearing on a petition under this Act, the court shall consider any evidence that the respondent believed in good faith that the respondent’s conduct was necessary to avoid imminent harm to the child or respondent and any other evidence that may be relevant to whether the respondent may be permitted to remove or retain the child.
(1) If a petition is filed under this Act, the court may enter an order that must include:
(2) the manner in which notice and opportunity to be heard were given to the people entitled to notice of the proceeding;
(3) a detailed description of each party’s custody and visitation rights and residential arrangements for the child;
(4) a provision stating that a violation of the order may subject the party in violation to civil and criminal penalties; and
(5) identification of the child’s country of habitual residence at the time of the issuance of the order.
(b) If, at a hearing on a petition under this Act or on the court’s own motion, the court after reviewing the evidence finds a credible risk of abduction of the child, the court shall enter an abduction prevention order. The order must include the provisions required by subsection (a) and measures and conditions, including those in subsections (c), (d), and (e), that are reasonably calculated to prevent abduction of the child, giving due consideration to the custody and visitation rights of the parties. The court shall consider the age of the child, the potential harm to the child from an abduction, the legal and practical difficulties of returning the child to the jurisdiction if abducted, and the reasons for the potential abduction, including evidence of domestic violence,
stalking, or child abuse or neglect.
(1) an imposition of travel restrictions that require that a party traveling with the child outside a designated geographical area provide the other party with the following:
(A) the travel itinerary of the child;
can be reached at specified times; and
(C) copies of all travel documents;
(2) a prohibition of the respondent directly or indirectly:
(A) removing the child from this state, the United States, or another geographic area without permission of the court or the petitioner’s written consent;
(B) removing or retaining the child in violation of a child-custody determination;
(C) removing the child from school or a child-care or similar facility; or
(D) approaching the child at any location other than a site designated for supervised visitation;
(3) a requirement that a party to register the order in another state as a prerequisite to allowing the child to travel to that state;
(4) with regard to the child’s passport:
(A) a direction that the petitioner to place the child’s name in the United States Department Of State’s child passport issuance alert program;
(B) a requirement that the respondent surrender to the court or the petitioner’s attorney any United States or foreign passport issued in the child’s name, including a passport issued in the name of both the parent and the child; and
(C) a prohibition upon the respondent from applying on behalf of the child for a new or replacement passport or visa;
(5) as a prerequisite to exercising custody or visitation, a requirement that the respondent provide:
(A) to the United States Department of State Office of Children’s Issues and the relevant foreign consulate or embassy, an authenticated copy of the order detailing passport and travel restrictions for the child;
(B) to the court:
(i) proof that the respondent has provided the information in subparagraph (A); and
(ii) an acknowledgment in a record from the relevant foreign consulate or embassy that no passport application has been made, or passport issued, on behalf of the child;
(C) to the petitioner, proof of registration with the United States embassy or other United States diplomatic presence in the destination country and with the central authority for the Hague Convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction, if that Convention is in effect between the United States and the destination country, unless one of the parties objects; and
(D) a written waiver under the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. Section 552a, as amended, with respect to any document, application, or other information pertaining to the child authorizing its disclosure to the court and the petitioner; and
(6) upon the petitioner’s request, a requirement that the respondent obtain an order from the relevant foreign country containing terms identical to the child-custody determination issued in the United States.
(d) In an abduction prevention order, the court may impose conditions on the exercise of custody or visitation that:
(1) limit it visitation or require that visitation with the child by the respondent be supervised until the court finds that supervision is no longer necessary and order the respondent to pay the costs of supervision;
(2) require the respondent to post a bond or provide other security in an amount sufficient to serve as a financial deterrent to abduction, the proceeds of which may be used to pay for the reasonable expenses of recovery of the child, including reasonable attorney’s fees and costs if there is an abduction; and
(3) require the respondent to obtain education on the potentially harmful effects to the child from abduction.
(e) To prevent imminent abduction of a child, a court may:
(1) issue a warrant to take physical custody of the child under section 9, and amendments thereto, or the law of this state other than this Act;
(2) direct the use of law enforcement to take any action reasonably necessary to locate the child, obtain return of the child, or enforce a custody determination under this Act or the law of this state other than this Act; or
(3) grant any other relief allowed under the law of this state other than this Act.
(f) The remedies provided in this Act are cumulative and do not affect the availability of other remedies to prevent abduction.
(a) If a petition under this Act contains allegations, and the court finds that there is a credible risk that the child is imminently likely to be wrongfully removed, the court may issue an ex parte warrant to take physical custody of the child.
(b) The respondent on a petition under subsection (a) must be afforded an opportunity to be heard at the earliest possible time after the ex parte warrant is executed, but not later than the next judicial day unless a hearing on that date is impossible. In that event, the court shall hold the hearing on the first judicial day possible.
(c) An ex parte warrant under subsection (a) to take physical custody of a child must:
(1) recite the facts upon which a determination of a credible risk of imminent wrongful removal of the child is based;
(2) direct law enforcement officers to take physical custody of the child immediately;
(3) state the date and time for the hearing on the petition; and
(4) provide for the safe interim placement of the child pending further order of the court.
(d) If feasible, before issuing a warrant and before determining the placement of the child after the warrant is executed, the court may order a search of the relevant databases of the national crime information center system and similar state databases to determine if either the petitioner or respondent has a history of domestic violence, stalking, or child abuse or neglect.
(e) The petition and warrant must be served on the respondent when or immediately after the child is taken into physical custody.
(f) A warrant to take physical custody of a child, issued by this state or another state, is enforceable throughout this state. If the court finds that a less intrusive remedy will not be effective, it may authorize law enforcement officers to enter private property to take physical custody of the child. If required by exigent circumstances, the court may authorize law enforcement officers to make a forcible entry at any hour.
(g) If the court finds, after a hearing, that a petitioner sought an ex parte warrant under subsection (a) for the purpose of harassment or in bad faith, the court may award the respondent reasonable attorney’s fees, costs, and expenses.
(h) This Act does not affect the availability of relief allowed under the law of this state other than this Act.
Section 10. An abduction prevention order remains in effect until the earliest of:
(1) the time stated in the order;
(2) the emancipation of the child;
(3) the child’s attaining 18 years of age; or
(4) the time the order is modified, revoked, vacated, or superseded by a court with jurisdiction under [insert citation], and amendments thereto.
Section 11. In applying and construing this Uniform Act, consideration must be given to the need to promote uniformity of the law with respect to its subject matter among states that enact it.
Section 12. This Act modifies, limits, and supersedes the federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, 15 U.S.C. Section 7001, et seq., but does not modify, limit, or supersede Section 101(c) of the Act, 15 U.S.C. Section 7001(c), of that Act or authorize electronic delivery of any of the notices described in Section 103(b) of that Act, 15 U.S.C. Section 7003(b).
Section 13. This Act shall take effect and be in force from and after its publication in the statute book.