Husband filed a petition for legal separation from his wife.  She resided in Oklahoma with the parties’ two children.   The trial court dismissed his petition.  Husband appealed.

On appeal, he claimed that the trial court erred in dismissing his petition.  He argued that Illinois is the only court with jurisdiction under the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA).

Under section 201(a) of the UCCJEA, a court of this state had jurisdiction to make an initial custody determination if: “(1) [Illinois] 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 six months before the commencement of the proceeding and the child is absent from this State but a parent or person acting as a parent continues to live in this State; [or]….

Husband had filed his petition in Illinois within four months of the wife moving to Oklahoma with the children.  Thus, Illinois was the home state of the children at the commencement of the proceedings.

The Appellate Court reversed the trial court. The case was returned to the Illinois trial court for further proceedings.

The Illinois trial court had determined that it had jurisdiction.  Then it determined that Oklahoma was the more appropriate forum in which to adjudicate custody.  The children had lived there for several months and attended school there.  Also, wife had filed a petition for dissolution there.

The trial court judge contacted the Oklahoma judge.  They discussed the case by phone.  But, they did not record or transcribe the phone call.    A record of the communication is required to be made.

Therefore, the case had to be returned to the Illinois trial court to comply with the statutory requirements.  The trial court should then again determine whether Illinois is an inconvenient forum for child custody proceedings under section 207 of Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA).

In re Marriage of Rickett, 2020 IL App (3d) 180657 (March 11, 2020) Tazewell Co.