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Jurisdiction Rules Prevent Father From Modifying Child Support in Florida

Map_of_USA_with_state_names_2.pngIn today’s world, personal and professional situations often dictate that individuals and families do not stay in one place forever. You may have lived in one state, and within a few years, you, your ex, and your children may have all moved away. When this happens, the rules of jurisdiction may limit what court may issue rulings on your case. A mother who had not lived in Florida since before she got divorced was able to get a court order modifying her ex-husband’s child support obligation thrown out recently based on these rules. Since the couple’s divorce and child support order came from California, and the mother had not done any of the acts required to give Florida courts jurisdiction over the case, the 5th District Court of Appeal decided that the Florida modification order was invalid.

A. (wife) and R. (husband) married in Florida and had one child born here in 2000. Soon after the child’s birth, the family relocated to California. The couple eventually divorced, obtaining a California judgment in 2005. That California resolution included a child support order relating to the couple’s child. In 2008, the father, who had returned to Florida, asked a court here to domesticate the California judgment, which means making the decision valid and recognizable in Florida. The father also asked the court to modify his child support obligation. The court agreed and entered the order.

Three years later, the wife brought the case back to court, claiming that the modification order should be thrown out because Florida had no jurisdiction to modify the father’s child support obligation. The appeals court agreed with the mother and threw out the modification. The relevant statute that governed this outcome is called the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.

Under that law, there are only two ways a Florida court can intervene in a case like this couple’s. One is if neither the parents nor the child live in the state where the original order was issued, the parent seeking modification is not a Florida resident, and the Florida court has jurisdiction over the parent who is not seeking the modification. The second scenario requires both parents to complete written consent documents giving permission to the Florida court to take the case and rule on the modification request.

The father’s modification request failed to meet the criteria of either option. The first option was unavailable because it required the parent seeking modification to be a non-resident of Florida, but the father had relocated back to Florida before making his request. The second option was also not viable because the evidence in the case contained no record of either parent filing consent papers in California to allow the Florida courts to intervene and enter a ruling in a child support modification request.

If you are going through a divorce, or have gone through divorce and share children with your ex-spouse, the laws that govern how you go about seeking changes to the court orders governing your child support, child custody, and other family law matters can be especially complicated if none of you live in that state anymore. Whether you’ve moved to Florida, or have moved away and need to modify an existing Florida court order, you need skilled Florida family law lawyers on your side to help you understand how to proceed. Consult the South Florida family law attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A. for answers to your interstate family law questions. Our attorneys have knowledge and experience to help you understand your options and proceed in a manner that will allow you to obtain the modifications your family needs.

Contact us online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Deciding Where a Divorce and Child Custody Case Should (or Can) Be Litigated, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Nov. 3, 2014
Florida Court Orders Russian Mother to Adjudicate Child Support Case Overseas, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Dec. 12, 2014