We help you start your new life.
Call for a Consultation 732-741-9900

Jurisdiction Issues in Child Support Cases

Jurisdiction Issues in Child Support Cases

Before a court can issue an order of child support, the court must assure itself that it has jurisdiction over the parties. Under the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (UEFJA) and the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (URESA) courts in other states will recognize and enforce lawfully issued child support orders.

Original Jurisdiction

State law determines which court within a state has jurisdiction to consider the issue of child support. Where all the parties live in the same state at the time proceedings are filed, the state court can enter orders compelling payment of child support. Where the parties live in different states at the time proceedings are filed, the Supreme Court has held that the home state court has jurisdiction to dissolve a marriage based on the plaintiff's contacts with the home state. The home state court of the child may issue orders compelling the payment of child support. However, to enforce the order of child support, the court must have personal jurisdiction over the defendant. Such personal jurisdiction can frequently be found in the home state's "long-arm" statutes, based on contact between the parent and the child.

Recognition of Child Support Orders

Because child support orders are continuing in nature, they are not subject to the full faith and credit laws. However, to the extent that any arrearage has been determined and reduced to judgment, the judgment is subject to the full faith and credit laws and will be recognized in states other than the one that issued the original order. A sister state may agree to enforce the child support obligation, but it will have jurisdiction to relitigate the obligation to pay child support and to modify the amount of support. Where past due support has been reduced to a judgment under a foreign court, the UEFJA provides a means for registering the judgment and enforcing collection.

Interstate Jurisdiction

When the parent owing child support is in another state, the order compelling payment of child support may be registered in the state in which the parent lives. URESA allows for interstate litigation of child support orders. Where the home court of the child has issued an order of child support, but that state court does not have personal jurisdiction over the absent parent, a court in the state in which the absent parent lives has the right and duty to enforce the order of support, once that order is registered in that state. The original order of support is evidence of the amount calculated by the home state, but the obligation and the amount of support can be relitigated by the absent parent and the amount can be modified. Support orders will be enforced as they existed up to the time they are modified and enforced at the modified amount thereafter.

Copyright 2011 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.