If you are involved in a family law action regarding paternity, child support, or alimony enforcement, and the adverse party is not a resident of Florida, you will likely hear the term Uniform Interstate Family Support Act. It is critical if you are engaged in a Family Law matter with an out of state party that you fully understand the qualities and specifications of this governing body of law. Discuss this crucial piece of your case with your attorney to ensure you are properly educated and aware of the impact this law has on your proceedings.
The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act was originally developed in 1992 and has been adopted by every state in the United States by 1998. Florida provides for the Act in Florida Statute chapter 88. The Act specifically applies to family law actions seeking establishment, enforcement, or modification of child support, alimony, or paternity and the parties involved are residents of different states. The Act provides the national standards for determining jurisdiction over a case and the power of enforcement of the court.
With parties of separate states, obtaining jurisdiction over the out of state party can be a significant hurdle to an action. However, the UIFSA also provides 8 different methods for establishing personal jurisdiction over an out of state party when seeking to establish paternity, establish a support order, or enforce a support order.
“(a) The individual is personally served with citation, summons, or notice within this state;
(b) The individual submits to the jurisdiction of this state by consent in a record, by entering a general appearance, or by filing a responsive document having the effect of waiving any contest to personal jurisdiction;
(c) The individual resided with the child in this state;
(d) The individual resided in this state and provided prenatal expenses or support for the child;
(e) The child resides in this state as a result of the acts or directives of the individual;
(f) The individual engaged in sexual intercourse in this state and the child may have been conceived by that act of intercourse;
(g) The individual asserted parentage of a child in a tribunal or in a putative father registry maintained in this state by the appropriate agency; or
(h) There is any other basis consistent with the constitutions of this state and the United States for the exercise of personal jurisdiction.”
The Act provides many avenues for a state to obtain jurisdiction over the parties, however it is important to recognize the different methods of jurisdiction to ensure the out of state party will qualify. Further, it is important to note that once personal jurisdiction has been obtained in a proceeding or if the original action has previously been adjudicated in the home state of the child, that court will retain jurisdiction as long as the court has continuing and exclusive jurisdiction to modify the order. Continuing and exclusive jurisdiction for modification exists, when a party maintains a residence in the state, or the parties consent to the jurisdiction. Therefore, you will need to ensure if you have a prior order in a different court, they do not have exclusive jurisdiction over your case, preventing you from filing your action in the State of Florida.
The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act is one of the many laws that will need to be addressed in your Family Law Case regarding out of state parties. These acts can be complicated and difficult to navigate. Therefore, we encourage you to employ the assistance of an experienced family law attorney to ensure they are properly implemented into your case.
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