In our last discussion we covered the issue of moving between states with minor children and the child custody and parenting time laws that follow the child. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act is the tool used by courts of the State of Minnesota to determine whether they have jurisdiction to decide child custody and parenting time for a particular child. But what about the question of child support? If a Minnesota court has jurisdiction to determine which parent the child may live with, or how much time the child may spend in a parent’s care, does the Minnesota court also get to determine how much child support that child is entitled to? The answer is … not necessarily.
Although a court may have authority to decide where the child lives and spends time, it may not have authority to decide how much support that child receives from a parent in the form of a child support order. The reason for this is that a separate body of law exists to address the question of child support, and whether a state has authority or ‘jurisdiction’ to establish or modify a child support order. This separate body of law is the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, which has been enacted into law by Minnesota and all other states as well. Similar to the UCCJEA, the intent behind UIFSA is to make the issue of determining jurisdiction over child support orders between different states an easier puzzle to solve.
Unfortunately the puzzle remains a tough one, and there is no ‘nice and easy’ rule we can extract from UIFSA like we did with the UCCJEA’s six-month ‘home state’ rule from our last discussion. In that discussion we talked about how a Minnesota Court can assume jurisdiction over a child custody or parenting time order after a child has resided here for six consecutive months and thereby established residence. Not so with UIFSA.
Unlike its counterpart UCCJEA, UIFSA confers jurisdiction, generally speaking, on the state where the parent, and not the child is living. The parent in cases concerning child support, is usually the non-custodial parent and is therefore charged with paying a child support order to the other parent. It is important to remember that UIFSA has many significant exceptions to the general notion that a child support order remains in the state with the parent responsible for paying support. But there is undeniably a key distinction between child support orders and child custody and parenting time orders when it comes to deciding whether a Minnesota court can modify orders from other states.
Parents may find themselves in the position of arguing in a Minnesota court for child custody and parenting time, and then having to argue in a Florida court for child support, for the very same child. Although not uncommon when parents live in separate states, it does not always have to end up like this, and with some careful consultation and application of both the UIFSA and the UCCJEA it is possible to have child support matters heard in the same state as child custody and parenting time matters.
At Clausen & Hassan, our Minnesota Family Law Attorneys have experience with UIFSA, and other child support problems and questions. If you have questions about your specific situation, contact us today for your free consultation