By Rob Hagy, Law Offices of Rob Hagy, P.C., 154 Hansen Road, Suite 202B, Charlottesville, Virginia. Call (434)293-4562 for more information or email for more information at email@example.com. I look forward to helping you!
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In the case of Sowers v. Walker, the Virginia Court of Appeals, held that the trial court properly determined it did not have jurisdiction to hear father's motions under the UCCJEA. The trial court did not have exclusive continuing jurisdiction to modify an earlier order concerning the parties' children because neither husband, nor wife, nor the children still lived in Virginia. The trial court did not have jurisdiction to make aninitial child custody determination because neither the parents nor the child lived in Virginia and they had not lived in Virginia for years. Therefore, Virginia could not be the child's home state. Finally, the trial court did not have temporary emergency jurisdiction because the child was not abandoned in Virginia or being abused.
In the case of Prizzia v. Prizzia, the Virginia Court of Appeals, in a published opinion, ruled that the trial court made a number of errors. First, the trial court failed to follow the requirements of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. Instead of finding that a court in Hungary had jurisdiction to decide the parties' custody and visitation dispute, the trial court should have exercised jurisdiction. It was the home state of the child and, thus, had jurisdiction to make this decision, the initial custody determination.
And, even if the trial court was going to defer jurisdiction on the grounds that Virginia was an inconvenient forum, it failed to follow the requirements of the inconvenient forum statute. In order for a trial court to decline to exercise jurisdiction, it must specifically determine two things: (1) "that it is an inconvenient forum under the circumstances," and (2) "that a court of another state is a more appropriate forum." Furthermore, in "consider[ing] whether it is appropriate for a court of another state to exercise jurisdiction," the trial court must both "allow the parties to present evidence" and "consider all relevant factors, including those listed in the statute.
Here, the trial court failed to do what the statute requires. The trial court made no specific determination that Virginia was an inconvenient forum under the circumstances or that the Hungarian court was a more appropriate forum. Moreover, the trial court did not allow the parties to present all relevant evidence, as husband requested, on the issue of whether it was more appropriate for the Hungarian court to exercise jurisdiction.
The trial court could have also declined to exercise jurisdiction on the grounds that the father, who was seeking to invoke Virginia's jurisdiction, was attempting to do so as a result of unjustifiable conduct. Here, there is no evidence that Virginia had home state jurisdiction because husband had engaged in unjustifiable conduct. The trial court did not make this finding, nor did it base its decision to decline to exercise jurisdiction on the unjustifiable conduct statute.
Lastly, the trial court inexplicably held that the wife’s equitable distribution award be held in escrow until she complied with the Hungarian court’s visitation order. The equitable distribution statute simply does not confer the authority to impose this condition upon an equitable distribution award.
Virginia Code Section 20-108.2 This provision of Virginia law sets forth the child support guidelines-a table of reference for determining the base monthly child support obligation.
Virginia Code Section 20-124.3 This statute sets forth the factors that a court will consider in divorce proceedings, temporary proceedings, or modification proceedings to determine what custody and visitation arrangement would be best for the child or children involved.