Divorce Lawyers In Miami Faced With Alimony Jurisdictional Issue

In Sootin v. Sootin, the former husband and former wife divorced in Miami-Dade in 1998. The former husband was obliged to pay the former wife permanent alimony. During 2008, the former husband sought to modify or terminate his alimony obligation. The former wife successfully moved to dismiss the petition since she now resided in Tennessee.

Next, the former husband moved to Tennessee and filed a petition to register and modify the divorce decree previously entered in Miami-Dade. After the former wife moved to dismiss the petition for a lack of subject matter jurisdiction in Tennessee, the Miami-Dade court, after consultation with the Tennessee Court, transfered the case to Tennessee. The former wife appealed this order.

In reversing the trial court’s transfer order, the Third District Court of Appeal held that the Miami divorce court erred in transferring the case to Tennessee. The court reasoned that Florida, under the Unified Interstate Family Support Act (hereinafter “UIFSA”), had continuing exclusive jurisdiction over the alimony order throughout the existence of the obligation.

Under UIFSA, a child support or alimony order issued in Florida can be registered in a foreign state for enforcement. However, the court of the foreign state is required to ask the court who issued the original order to consider either party’s request for modification of the registered alimony or child support order in the issuing court that had original jurisdiction.