Court Decides that a Mother Could Seek a Child Support Order in Florida Even Though the Child’s Home was in Ireland

In your Florida child support case, it is important to understand when a Florida judge can, and cannot, issue a ruling. As one Orlando-area case recently showed, the rules regarding when a court can order child support are much broader than those regarding when a court can determine custody. There is no requirement that Florida be the child’s “home state” under child custody jurisdiction laws. In other words, if you’re in Florida and you need to assert a claim for imposition of a child support obligation, you should reach out to an experienced Florida family law attorney as you may be able to bring your case in this state.

The child support case between R.K. and P.K. was one that involved this type of issue of court jurisdiction. The couple wed in Florida, had a child here and lived as a family in this state for several years. However, at some later point, the marriage broke down, the couple separated and the mother and child relocated to Ireland.

In the summer of 2017, the husband filed for divorce in Brevard County. As part of his court document filings, the father asserted that, under Florida’s child custody jurisdiction laws, Florida courts did not have jurisdiction over the child, so the husband’s pleadings pertained solely to the couple’s issues that did not involve the child. The wife’s court papers asked the court in Brevard County to award child support, ordered that the husband contribute to the child’s uncovered health care costs and to maintain medical insurance for the child.

The trial court sided with the husband, but the wife appealed and won. The key to deciding this case, according to the father, was whether or not Florida qualified as the child’s “home state” under the child custody jurisdiction laws. If the Sunshine State was the home state, then the trial court could have ordered child support. If Florida was not the child’s “home state” under that law, then the trial judge was correct in declining to make an order imposing a child support obligation.

The appeals court explained that the determination of a child’s home state under child custody jurisdiction laws was completely irrelevant to the question of the court’s authority to order a child support obligation. Florida clearly was not the child’s home state under the law, so the court in Brevard County couldn’t issue an order on child custody. The law in Florida, however, “specifically excludes an order relating to child support or other monetary obligation of an individual.” The law blocks Florida courts from making custody decisions when Florida isn’t the child’s home state; it doesn’t block child support rulings.

Florida law says that the only things required in order for a Florida court to have the authority to issue a child support order is that there was a legal proceeding before that court under Chapter 61 of the Florida Statutes and that the parent in question owed a duty to support the child. The case was before the court in Brevard County due to the husband’s divorce petition, which qualified as a “proceeding under chapter 61.” The husband had a duty to support the child. That was all that was needed to trigger jurisdiction and the trial judge should have decided the child support question on the merits of the parents’ arguments and evidence.

Whether you seek child support, alimony, or need to pursue some other family law issue, the South Florida family law attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A. are here to help. Our attorneys have been providing clients with the zealous representation they need to get they the results they deserve. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.

More blog posts:

What Happens to My Florida Child Support Obligation When One of My Children Moves in With Me?, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, July 6, 2018

Situations in Which a Child Support Obligation Can Extend Past the Child’s 18th Birthday Under Florida Law, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, March 20, 2018


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