Understanding How UCAPA Works and How it Can Protect Your Child

Posted by Joseph Lento | Mar 03, 2023 | 0 Comments

Imagine fearing your ex might take your child across state lines — or worse, out of the country — in violation of your child custody or visitation agreement. The Uniform Child Abduction and Prevention Act (UCAPA) enables a Pennsylvania court, on its own initiative or upon motion, to order abduction prevention measures in cases where there's a “credible risk” of child abduction.

UCAPA complements the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act, UCCJEA, and the Parental Kidnapping Act of 1980. UCCJEA helps ensure separated parents cannot move their children across state lines to avoid a child custody or visitation order. The Parental Kidnapping Act of 1980 helps prevent someone from taking a child without consent from one state to another to escape a child custody order in the child's home state.

Evidence for Determining Credible Risk of Abduction of a Child

UCAPA lists many issues a court should consider when assessing the risk of child abduction, including whether the parent has:

  • Previously abducted or tried to abduct the child
  • Threatened to abduct the child
  • Engaged in activities that may suggest a planned kidnapping, such as abandoning a job, selling their home or breaking a lease, closing bank or other financial accounts, liquidating assets, applying for a passport or visa, obtaining travel documents for the child, or trying to get the child's birth certificate or school or medical records
  • Stalked or been violent with the child, or committed child abuse or neglect
  • Refused to follow the child custody agreement
  • Limited familial, financial, or other ties to Pennsylvania or the U.S.
  • Strong familial, financial, or other ties to another state or country
  • Forged or provided false evidence on government forms or other documents to obtain or attempt to obtain a passport, visa, social security card, or other government-issued identification card
  • Made a misrepresentation to the U.S. government
  • Used multiple names to attempt to mislead or defraud

If a parent undertakes these actions because they're fleeing domestic violence or believes the other parent will harm the child, the court won't take these issues as a basis for an abduction prevention order.

Possible Prevention Measures

The court will look at all the facts and circumstances surrounding a given case to determine whether there is a credible risk for abduction. If the court does find credible evidence, it will enter an abduction prevention order.

Under this order, the court may impose several remedies to protect the child and prevent an abduction. These may include:

  • Travel restrictions
  • Documentation requirements
  • Restrictions on the child's passport
  • Conditions on child custody or visitation rights
  • A custody order with identical terms from the relevant foreign jurisdiction
  • Limited or supervised visitation
  • A bond or security posted by the parent in question as a financial deterrent to abduction
  • Education on the potential harm to the child from abduction

Pennsylvania Family Law Attorney

If you're concerned that your child's other parent may take them out of Pennsylvania to another state or country, you need legal counsel now. Contact Pennsylvania our Family Law Team at LLF Law Firm today at 888.535.3686, or reach out online.

About the Author

Joseph Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a veteran of one of the nation's busiest family courts with nearly 20 years' experience passionately helping families. By day, he worked in the trenches of family court, and at night, he studied the law. He helped countless families while working at family court, and he went on to become an attorney, dedicating his law practice to continuing the work he started years earlier. Mr. Lento's experience both behind the scenes and on the front lines allows him to understand a client's family law matter from all angles, and allows him to find and employ the most effective strategies to get favorable outcomes for any client. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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