The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals says a court confronted with a question of child custody must inquire as to whether the court of another state has jurisdiction and, if it determines this to be the case, must communicate with that court. Ruling in the case of M.J.P. v. K.H. and E.E.K., Case No. 2040166 (Ala. Civ. App. April 15, 2005), the Appeals Court applied the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (“PKPA” – 28 U.S.C. Â§ 1738A) and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA” – Ala. Code Â§ 30-3B-101 et seq.) in the case of a woman with five children.
The Appeals Court reversed the dismissal by the juvenile court of DHR’s attempt to modify the dependency status of the children. The mother and the father of three of the children both argued that Illinois had jurisdiction. The Appeals Court said the juvenile court acted too hastily:
The juvenile court’s dismissal order indicates that it granted both the mother’s and E.E.K.’s motions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction after “argument and testimony.” As noted above, however, the only testimony at the hearing on the motions to dismiss was that of [the father of the two oldest children], who testified on the issue whether another case regarding [his two children] was currently pending in Illinois. No evidence regarding whether and for how long the mother and the children had lived in another state or whether the allegations giving rise to the new petitions were based on actions outside of Alabama was adduced by any party. The juvenile court also failed to communicate with the Illinois court to determine whether a case involving [the two oldest children] was currently pending in Illinois and, if so, whether the Illinois court or the Alabama court was the more appropriate jurisdiction for a custody determination regarding [these children].
In light of the lack of evidence concerning the facts upon which jurisdiction under the PKPA or UCCJEA would be based, we have no choice but to reverse the judgment of the juvenile court and remand the cause to that court for it to take the necessary evidence, determine the necessary facts, and apply the PKPA and UCCJEA to those facts.