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Understanding Uniform Laws and Their Impact on Family Law
June 22nd, 2017

Many people, even some attorneys, are not familiar with the concept of Uniform Laws. That raises the question, “What are Uniform Laws and how do they come into being?” The theory, in a very general sense, behind Uniform Laws is to promote standardization of law throughout the United States. The Uniform Law Commission (ULC), also known as the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, traces its origin to a commission first founded by the American Bar Association in 1892. By 1912, every state had appointed Uniform Law Commissioners that met regularly in an effort to standardize laws from one state to another. Today, more than 350 commissioners serve on the ULC.

The ULC advances the rule of law by promoting the uniformity of state law. It addresses this need by drafting legislation intended to bring clarity and stability to areas where uniformity of the law is desirable and practical. Once a Uniform Act is drafted, the ULC advocates for its legislative adoption across the United States.

Over the years, the ULC has promulgated more than 300 Uniform Laws and model acts. The majority of the successful ULC projects are family law related and many of the existing statutory family laws across the country are the result of ULC efforts. Some successful family law related ULC endeavors include the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), which is adopted in every state of the union but for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Another example is the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), adopted in every state. Some well-conceived statutes have been the result of ULC projects but have yet to be adopted in the majority of these United States. An example of that is the Uniform Deployed Custody and Visitation Act (UDPCVA), adopted in only 12 jurisdictions to date.

The ULC is not the only entity involved in efforts to standardize laws between various states. The American Bar Association publishes Model Acts in this regard. By way of example, the American Bar Association is involved in promulgation of the 2017 Model Act governing Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), which updates the ABA Model Act that was published in 2008. ART includes a variety of topics such as gestational and genetic surrogacy, donation and use of embryos, and financial responsibility of parents, third parties and donors of genetic material.

In the following months, Williams Family Law will publish a number of blogs on Uniform Laws in three areas:

  • First, UIFSA, which greatly impacts interstate support litigation.
  • Second, UCCJEA, which has significant impact on interstate custody litigation, including registration and enforcement of existing orders.
  • Third, we will publish a blog on two related Uniform Acts that impact upon family law: the Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act (UCAPA) and the related Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA).

If you have questions about how uniform laws and other related laws impact your divorce, child custody or other family law matter, call the experienced Pennsylvania family law attorneys at Williams Family Law at 215-340-2207.

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