Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter II. Jurisdiction.


§ 16–4602.01. Initial child-custody jurisdiction.

(a) Except as otherwise provided in § 16-4602.04, a court of the District has jurisdiction to make an initial child-custody determination only if:

(1) The District is the home state of the child on the date of the commencement of the proceeding, or was the home state of the child within 6 months before the commencement of the proceeding and the child is absent from the District, but a parent or person acting as a parent continues to live in the District;

(2) A court of another state does not have jurisdiction under paragraph (1) of this subsection, or a court of the home state of the child has declined to exercise jurisdiction on the ground that the District is the more appropriate forum under §§ 16-4602.07 or 16-4602.08, and:

(A) The child and the child’s parents, or the child and at least one parent or a person acting as a parent, have a significant connection with the District other than mere physical presence; and

(B) Substantial evidence is available in the District concerning the child’s care, protection, training, and personal relationships;

(3) All courts having jurisdiction under paragraph (1) or (2) of this subsection have declined to exercise jurisdiction on the ground that a court of the District is the more appropriate forum to determine the custody of the child under §§ 16-4602.07 or 16-4602.08; or

(4) No court of any other state would have jurisdiction under the criteria specified in paragraph (1), (2), or (3) of this subsection.

(b) Subsection (a) of this section is the exclusive jurisdictional basis for making a child-custody determination by a court of the District.

(c) Physical presence of, or personal jurisdiction over, a party or a child is not necessary or sufficient to make a child-custody determination.


(Apr. 27, 2001, D.C. Law 13-293, § 2(d), 48 DCR 2214.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-4602.02, § 16-4602.03, § 16-4602.04, § 16-4602.08, and § 16-4604.10.

Editor's Notes

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 201 of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (1997 Act).


§ 16–4602.02. Exclusive, continuing jurisdiction.

(a) Except as otherwise provided in § 16-4602.04, a court of the District which has made a child-custody determination consistent with §§ 16-4602.01 or 16-4602.03 has exclusive, continuing jurisdiction over the determination until:

(1) A court of the District determines that neither the child, nor the child and one parent, nor the child and any person acting as a parent have a significant connection with the District and that substantial evidence is no longer available in the District concerning the child’s care, protection, training, and personal relationships; or

(2) A court of the District or a court of another state determines that the child, the child’s parents, and any person acting as a parent do not presently reside in the District.

(b) A court of the District which has made a child-custody determination and does not have exclusive, continuing jurisdiction under this section may modify that determination only if it has jurisdiction to make an initial determination under § 16-4602.01.


(Apr. 27, 2001, D.C. Law 13-293, § 2(d), 48 DCR 2214.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-4602.03.

Editor's Notes

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 202 of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (1997 Act).


§ 16–4602.03. Jurisdiction to modify determination.

Except as otherwise provided in § 16-4602.04, a court of the District may not modify a child-custody determination made by a court of another state unless a court of the District has jurisdiction to make an initial determination under § 16-4602.01(a)(1) or (2) and:

(1) The court of the other state determines it no longer has exclusive, continuing jurisdiction under § 16-4602.02 or that a court of the District would be a more convenient forum under § 16-4602.07; or

(2) A court of the District or a court of the other state determines that the child, the child’s parents, and any person acting as a parent do not presently reside in the other state.


(Apr. 27, 2001, D.C. Law 13-293, § 2(d), 48 DCR 2214.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-4602.02.

Editor's Notes

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 203 of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (1997 Act).


§ 16–4602.04. Temporary emergency jurisdiction.

(a) A court of the District has temporary emergency jurisdiction if the child is present in the District and the child has been abandoned or it is necessary in an emergency to protect the child because the child, or a sibling or parent of the child, is subjected to or threatened with mistreatment or abuse.

(b) If there is no previous child-custody determination that is entitled to be enforced under this chapter and a child-custody proceeding has not been commenced in a court of a state having jurisdiction under §§ 16-4602.01 through 16-4602.03, a child-custody determination made under this section remains in effect until an order is obtained from a court of a state having jurisdiction under §§ 16-4602.01 through 16-4602.03. If a child-custody proceeding has not been or is not commenced in a court of a state having jurisdiction under §§ 16-4602.01 through 16-4602.03, a child-custody determination made under this section becomes a final determination, if it so provides, and the District becomes the home state of the child.

(c) If there is a previous child-custody determination that is entitled to be enforced under this chapter, or a child-custody proceeding has been commenced in a court of a state having jurisdiction under §§ 16-4602.01 through 16-4602.03, any order issued by a court of the District under this section must specify in the order a period that the court considers adequate to allow the person seeking an order to obtain an order from the state having jurisdiction under §§ 16-4602.01 through 16-4602.03. The order issued in the District remains in effect until an order is obtained from the other state within the period specified or the period expires.

(d) A court of the District which has been asked to make a child-custody determination under this section, upon being informed that a child-custody proceeding has been commenced in, or a child-custody determination has been made by, a court of a state having jurisdiction under §§ 16-4602.01 through 16-4602.03, shall immediately communicate with the other court. A court of the District which is exercising jurisdiction pursuant to §§ 16-4602.01 through 16-4602.03, upon being informed that a child-custody proceeding has been commenced in, or a child-custody determination has been made by, a court of another state under a statute similar to this section shall immediately communicate with the court of that state to resolve the emergency, protect the safety of the parties and the child, and determine a period for the duration of the temporary order.


(Apr. 27, 2001, D.C. Law 13-293, § 2(d), 48 DCR 2214.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-4602.01, § 16-4602.02, § 16-4602.03, § 16-4602.06, § 16-4602.08, § 16-4603.10, § 16-4603.14, and § 16-4604.05.

Editor's Notes

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 204 of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (1997 Act).


§ 16–4602.05. Notice; opportunity to be heard; joinder.

(a) Before a child-custody determination is made under this chapter, notice and an opportunity to be heard in accordance with the standards of § 16-4601.07 must be given to all persons entitled to notice under the law of the District as in child-custody proceedings between residents of the District, any parent whose parental rights have not been previously terminated, and any person having physical custody of the child.

(b) This chapter does not govern the enforceability of a child-custody determination made without notice or an opportunity to be heard.

(c) The obligation to join a party and the right to intervene as a party in a child-custody proceeding under this chapter are governed by the law of the District as in child-custody proceedings between residents of the District.


(Apr. 27, 2001, D.C. Law 13-293, § 2(d), 48 DCR 2214.)

Editor's Notes

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 205 of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (1997 Act).


§ 16–4602.06. Simultaneous proceedings.

(a) Except as otherwise provided in § 16-4602.04, a court of the District may not exercise its jurisdiction under this subchapter if, at the time of the commencement of the proceeding, a proceeding concerning the custody of the child has been commenced in a court of another state having jurisdiction substantially in conformity with this chapter, unless the proceeding has been terminated or is stayed by the court of the other state because a court of the District is a more convenient forum under § 16-4602.07.

(b) Except as otherwise provided in § 16-4602.04, a court of the District, before hearing a child-custody proceeding, shall examine the court documents and other information supplied by the parties pursuant to § 16-4602.09. If the court determines that a child-custody proceeding has been commenced in a court in another state having jurisdiction substantially in accordance with this chapter, the court of the District shall stay its proceeding and communicate with the court of the other state. If the court of the state having jurisdiction substantially in accordance with this chapter does not determine that the court of the District is a more appropriate forum, the court of the District shall dismiss the proceeding.

(c) In a proceeding to modify a child-custody determination, a court of the District shall determine whether a proceeding to enforce the determination has been commenced in another state. If a proceeding to enforce a child-custody determination has been commenced in another state, the court may:

(1) Stay the proceeding for modification pending the entry of an order of a court of the other state enforcing, staying, denying, or dismissing the proceeding for enforcement;

(2) Enjoin the parties from continuing with the proceeding for enforcement; or

(3) Proceed with the modification under conditions it considers appropriate.


(Apr. 27, 2001, D.C. Law 13-293, § 2(d), 48 DCR 2214.)

Editor's Notes

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 206 of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (1997 Act).


§ 16–4602.07. Inconvenient forum.

(a) A court of the District which has jurisdiction under this chapter to make a child-custody determination may decline to exercise its jurisdiction at any time if it determines that it is an inconvenient forum under the circumstances and that a court of another state is a more appropriate forum. The issue of inconvenient forum may be raised upon motion of a party, the court’s own motion, or request of another court.

(b) Before determining whether it is an inconvenient forum, a court of the District shall consider whether it is appropriate for a court of another state to exercise jurisdiction. For this purpose, the court shall allow the parties to submit information and shall consider all relevant factors, including:

(1) Whether domestic violence has occurred and is likely to continue in the future and which state could best protect the parties and the child;

(2) The length of time the child has resided outside the District;

(3) The distance between the court in the District and the court in the state that would assume jurisdiction;

(4) The relative financial circumstances of the parties;

(5) Any agreement of the parties as to which state should assume jurisdiction;

(6) The nature and location of the evidence required to resolve the pending litigation, including testimony of the child;

(7) The ability of the court of each state to decide the issue expeditiously and the procedures necessary to present the evidence; and

(8) The familiarity of the court of each state with the facts and issues in the pending litigation.

(c) If a court of the District determines that it is an inconvenient forum and that a court of another state is a more appropriate forum, it shall stay the proceedings upon condition that a child-custody proceeding be promptly commenced in another designated state and may impose any other condition the court considers just and proper.

(d) A court of the District may decline to exercise its jurisdiction under this chapter if a child-custody determination is incidental to an action for divorce or another proceeding while still retaining jurisdiction over the divorce or other proceeding.


(Apr. 27, 2001, D.C. Law 13-293, § 2(d), 48 DCR 2214.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-4602.01, § 16-4602.03, § 16-4602.06, and § 16-4602.08.

Editor's Notes

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 207 of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (1997 Act).


§ 16–4602.08. Jurisdiction declined by reason of conduct.

(a) Except as otherwise provided in § 16-4602.04, if a court of the District has jurisdiction under this chapter because a person seeking to invoke its jurisdiction has engaged in unjustifiable conduct, the court shall decline to exercise its jurisdiction unless:

(1) The parents and all persons acting as parents have acquiesced in the exercise of jurisdiction;

(2) A court of the state otherwise having jurisdiction under §§ 16-4602.01 through 16-4602.03 determines that the District is a more appropriate forum under § 16-4602.07; or

(3) No court of any other state would have jurisdiction under the criteria specified in §§ 16-4602.01 through 16-4602.03.

(b) If a court of the District declines to exercise its jurisdiction pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, it may fashion an appropriate remedy to ensure the safety of the child and prevent a repetition of the unjustifiable conduct, including staying the proceeding until a child-custody proceeding is commenced in a court having jurisdiction under §§ 16-4602.01 through 16-4602.03.

(c) If a court dismisses a petition or stays a proceeding because it declines to exercise its jurisdiction pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, it shall assess against the party seeking to invoke its jurisdiction necessary and reasonable expenses, including costs, communication expenses, attorney’s fees, investigative fees, expenses for witnesses, travel expenses, and child care during the course of the proceedings, unless the party from whom fees are sought establishes that the assessment would be clearly inappropriate. The court may not assess fees, costs, or expenses against the District unless authorized by law other than this chapter.


(Apr. 27, 2001, D.C. Law 13-293, § 2(d), 48 DCR 2214.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-4602.01.

Editor's Notes

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 208 of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (1997 Act).


§ 16–4602.09. Information to be submitted to court.

(a) In a child-custody proceeding, each party, in its first pleading or in an attached affidavit, shall give information, if reasonably ascertainable, under oath as to the child’s present address or whereabouts, the places where the child has lived during the last 5 years, and the names and present addresses of the persons with whom the child has lived during that period. The pleading or affidavit must state whether the party:

(1) Has participated, as a party or witness or in any other capacity, in any other proceeding concerning the custody of or visitation with the child and, if so, identify the court, the case number, and the date of the child-custody determination, if any;

(2) Knows of any proceeding that could affect the current proceeding, including proceedings for enforcement and proceedings relating to domestic violence, protective orders, termination of parental rights, and adoptions and, if so, identify the court, the case number, and the nature of the proceeding; and

(3) Knows the names and addresses of any person not a party to the proceeding who has physical custody of the child or claims rights of legal custody or physical custody of, or visitation with, the child and, if so, the names and addresses of those persons.

(b) If the information required by subsection (a) of this section is not furnished, the court, upon motion of a party or its own motion, may stay the proceeding until the information is furnished.

(c) If the declaration as to any of the items described in subsection (a) (1) through (3) of this section is in the affirmative, the declarant shall give additional information under oath as required by the court. The court may examine the parties under oath as to details of the information furnished and other matters pertinent to the court’s jurisdiction and the disposition of the case.

(d) Each party has a continuing duty to inform the court of any proceeding in this or any other state that could affect the current proceeding.

(e) If a party alleges in an affidavit or a pleading under oath that the health, safety, or liberty of a party or child would be jeopardized by disclosure of identifying information, the information must be sealed and may not be disclosed to the other party or the public unless the court orders the disclosure to be made after a hearing in which the court takes into consideration the health, safety, or liberty of the party or child and determines that the disclosure is in the interest of justice.


(Apr. 27, 2001, D.C. Law 13-293, § 2(d), 48 DCR 2214.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-4602.06 and § 16-4604.06.

Editor's Notes

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 209 of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (1997 Act).


§ 16–4602.10. Appearance of parties and child.

(a) In a child-custody proceeding in the District, the court may order a party to the proceeding who is in the District to appear before the court in person, with or without the child. The court may order any person who is in the District and who has physical custody or control of the child to appear in person with the child.

(b) If a party to a child-custody proceeding whose presence is desired by the court is outside the District, the court may order that a notice given pursuant to section 16-4601.07 include a statement directing the party to appear in person, with or without the child, and informing the party that failure to appear may result in a decision adverse to the party.

(c) The court may enter any orders necessary to ensure the safety of the child and of any person ordered to appear under this section.

(d) If a party to a child-custody proceeding who is outside the District is directed to appear under subsection (b) of this section or desires to appear personally before the court, with or without the child, the court may require another party to pay reasonable and necessary travel and other expenses of the party so appearing and of the child.


(Apr. 27, 2001, D.C. Law 13-293, § 2(d), 48 DCR 2214.)

Editor's Notes

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 210 of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (1997 Act).