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Child Support Jurisdiction Changes Must Follow Uniform Interstate Family Support Act
Posted in Estate Planning

The Indiana Court of Appeals determined that an Indiana court did not reassume jurisdiction after an Illinois court because the father in the case did not follow Uniform Interstate Family Support Act requirements. In J.L. v. R.V., the mother and father of one child divorced in 1999. The father was ordered to pay $45 a week in child support. Shortly after the divorce, the father moved to Illinois. In 2001, the mother filed a support modification in the Illinois county where the father lived. Both parties signed the order, and the father did not object to Illinois jurisdiction. In 2004, the father filed a motion asking Indiana to reassume jurisdiction. The mother objected to the request, but the father insisted that he requested Indiana jurisdiction over both parenting and child support matters. The Indiana court reassumed jurisdiction, and the mother objected. Later that year, the father filed to modify child support, arguing that Illinois no longer had jurisdiction because he had moved to Pennsylvania. The mother again objected. The Indiana court took no action on the petition for five years, and the mother received no child support during this period. In 2009, the father filed a motion to establish child support in Indiana, arguing that the Illinois court had no jurisdiction and its prior ruling of the original Indiana support order was void. A pre-trial conference was held in chambers. The father’s attorney and the deputy prosecutor attended, but the mother’s request to attend was denied. The trial court questioned the mother during the hearing but refused to allowed her uninterrupted argument. The hearing was cut short by the father’s attorney, and the trial court granted the father’s motion. The mother appealed. The Court of Appeals found that the mother properly registered the child support order in Illinois and that both parties filed the jurisdiction transfer order. Indiana no longer had jurisdiction of child support at that point. The father argued that the Illinois court failed to provide notice and hearing before assuming jurisdiction. Because the support order modification was drafted by the father’s counsel and clearly stated that a hearing was held, the father’s argument was unconvincing. The Court of Appeals determined that the Indiana court never reassumed jurisdiction after the Illinois court. The Court also noted that the Indiana court could have issued a prospective modification, but not a retroactive modification. The Court finally held that the Illinois court’s modification was valid, and that the Indiana court’s order nullifying it was invalid. The Court also took exception to the trial court’s conduct by holding a pre-trial hearing that explicitly excluded the other. On remand, the case is to be assigned to a different judge.

To learn more about Michael Kohlhaas and his practice, visit his profile.

  • Partner

    Mike is a partner in Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP’s Estate Planning Department. The Estate Planning Department seamlessly coordinates and executes a wide array of legal services that cater to the unique needs of high ...

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