Complex Jurisdictional Issues

The term “jurisdiction” refers to the authority that is assigned by law to a court to decide cases within a specified geographic area concerning a specific group of legal cases.  Unfortunately, given the variety of family law and domestic relations situations, jurisdictional issues can grow quite complicated because there is often a conflict between the state/commonwealth, federal and, even, country laws regarding how the issue should be resolved.

How Jurisdiction Should Be Treated
Before filing any paperwork concerning a child custody, support or divorce action, a party must determine the proper geographical location where to file a case.  Most often, jurisdiction is found in the state where the parties reside, but determining jurisdiction can prove particularly difficult when the parties live in different states (or different countries).  In the event that a case is initiated in an improper jurisdiction, it is likely that the opposing party will be successful in dismissing it based on lack of jurisdiction.

Interstate Jurisdictional Issues Concerning Child Custody and Family Support
When individuals seek to either establish or modify child custody and support orders, the situation can become even more complicated.  Each state (and commonwealth) has adopted uniform statutes, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act and the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, regarding custody and child support jurisdiction.  These two statutes are designed to ensure that only one jurisdiction exists to establish or modify an existing child custody order. Also, these statutes are there to prevent so-called “forum shopping” by either party in search for more beneficial laws and to stop a party from trying to get a different – more beneficial – court order in a different state.

Jurisdictional Issues Surrounding Divorces
Jurisdictional issues in divorces that can sometimes prove to be particularly complex. While a court might have jurisdiction to dissolve a marriage, the court might not possess the authority to issue judgments concerning child support or custody. Personal jurisdiction (the power to make orders regarding specific parties) must be established in order for a court to order financial payments. To exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident of the state, however, the situation must meet one of several requirements.

Resources for Jurisdictional Issues

Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction And Enforcement Act

Uniform Interstate Family Support Act…uploads/2012/02/UIFSA_2001.pdf


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