REPEAL UCAPA

REPEAL the Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act, UCAPA !

Testimony of two prominent Louisianians before the Lousiana House Civil Law and Procedure committee hearing in 2007

Rep. Bowler – member Louisiana Civil Law and Procedure Committee

“My reluctance with the bill, and it is with all due respect to this group of people, who got together and decided this was a good idea is that it does something, it departs from what I think is a real important concept in America and that is you are innocent until proven guilty, and this (law) actually causes you to be penalized by a court for something they think you might do.

I think that is a real departure in thinking in America to do that.

I would hope that we would send this back to that group of Uniform lawmakers that come up with these models, say let’s rethink this and I would hope that we don’t pass it.

It’s not that I don’t think the problem is serious enough …

In Louisiana we have in our statutes, which I think operates as a huge deterrent, is under our simple kidnapping law, we say that, “the intentional taking, enticing, or decoying and removing from the state by any parent his or her child from whom custody has been … blah, blah blah … it creates within … this bill is trying to address, we create in the definition of simple kidnapping and actually threaten somebody with a fine of $5,000, imprisonment for five years or both.

I think that provides a real discouragement from any person in Louisiana doing what this bill seeks to prevent.

Do we know how often this happens in Louisiana that we need to go to these extraordinary measure?”

Excerpt from Harold Murry Family Law Attorney, Alexandria

Murry:

Hello, My name is Harold Murry, I am a family law attorney in Alexandria, I am also on the Supreme Courts domestic violence along with Anne Styre, who is a friend of mine, who I believe is speaking in favor of the bill.

My problem with this bill, is I think it started out as a really good idea, if you go look at the web site, you see that it started out as the Uniform International Child Abduction prevention act.

Because that is a huge problem, I have had cases where the father of the kid for instance is an exchange student from Jordan or he is a merchant from Pakistan and the people split and he is not going to get custody, he takes the kids to that country, and all we can do is write a couple of letters to the consulate, the mom never sees them again, there is no way to get them back. and that is why there is so much in this about the Hague treaty on child abduction, whether or not somebody is from one of these countries where you can take kids and never get them back.

At some point, I think in August 2004, somebody appended some additional language to this, to make this solve all problems, and they took the International, the word international out and they added this thing that if you are from another state or have strong cultural ties to another state, that you are suspect, just like somebody who is from another country and really has the ability to do this sort of thing.

I tell my clients, there are always these threats that well, I am going to take the kid, no I am going to take the kid and you’ll be darned if you see him again.

I say, let him take the kid to Mississippi, we will have the kid back in two weeks and the judge will put him in jail. I’d love it. Don’t worry about it.

We have all the laws we need.

We have the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act;

We have the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act – which is the federal statute to prevent children from being snatched from State to State.

They talk about strong cultural ties to another State should make you suspect.

Well, I can’t imagine them saying that somebody in Nebraska has cultural ties to Kansas that are suspect, they don’t even have culture. I mean, its all the same, they are from the mid-west. (audience laughter) I mean, I think it is going to be used against Cajuns or something, I don’t know.

If you live in Houston and you have LSU season tickets you are suspect.

This should be, we need to send a message back to the committee to fix this thing back the way it was, to strike out the provisions that are just pasted in there where it says things like from another country or state, that that should be taken out and it should be an International act.

We need this protection, but this is going to be abused, I mean, lawyers love ex-parte custody orders. When I started practicing in ’85 that was part of your stock in trade, if you could get your party ex-parte custody before the hearing came up a month later, your phone did not ring, the other attorney’s phone would ring.

We went to a lot of trouble, you guys passed Code of Civil Procedure Article 3945 a few years ago making it extremely difficult to come in and get temporary custody, you had to show immediate irreparable harm.

And this has these factors like um, has previously abducted or attempted to abduct that could be taking the kid on a day when it wasn’t your day.

There is all sorts of things, Ms. Bowler is absolutely right, there is no number, what if you just meet two of them, I mean you don’t have to meet them all, they terminate a lease, all of the things that happen when you are going through a divorce are present here.

I think it had the potential to be a very great act, but it is now extremely flawed by adding the business about the state, being from another state will trigger these incredible sanctions against you.

I don’t know if it is appropriate to amend a Uniform Act, its been done before because I remember the UCCJA when it was first passed, there were a couple of states with asterisk’s by their name because they had taken some provisions out of it. {Rep Walker sits down}

I think probably the best is to just not pass it, but if you do pass it, amend it if you can.