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What Happens When There Are Multiple Child Support Orders From Different States?

Child hugging her dad

After the upheaval surrounding a divorce, one parent may decide to move to another state within the country. As legal battles surrounding the divorce continue even after the move, multiple state courts may become involved, creating conflicts and complications. A New Jersey appellate court recently addressed an interesting question: If courts in multiple states have issued differing child support orders, which state has jurisdiction over the issue, and which state’s law controls? Read on for more about the case, and contact a knowledgeable New Jersey child support attorney with any questions.

New Jersey Court Determines Law of the Original Divorce Decree State Applies

The case of Flynn v. Flynn concerns a divorced couple with children. The parties divorced in Pennsylvania in 2005. The father, Robert, was living in New Jersey at the time of the divorce, while the mother, Kathleen, was living in Pennsylvania. Kathleen then moved to New Jersey where they shared custody of their two sons. The original divorce order included a provision that when Kathleen moved to New Jersey, the parties would transfer jurisdiction from Pennsylvania to a New Jersey court. They did so, and New Jersey took control.

In 2013 and 2016, Kathleen filed motions in New Jersey court for an increase in child support. Their children were, at that point, over 18, and their younger son was in college. New Jersey law requires parents to continue child support while the kids are in college, even if they are over 18; Pennsylvania ends child support obligations when the child reaches 18. The New Jersey court ordered a modification of child support to help pay for college, and Robert appealed, arguing Pennsylvania law should apply.

Pennsylvania Divorce Laws Apply

New Jersey follows a modified version of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), a model act intended to promote unity among state family law. UIFSA resolves jurisdictional disputes by granting the original jurisdiction that issued a support order the exclusive control over the law that applies in modifying the order. Even here where the parties conceded jurisdiction to the New Jersey court, various provisions of New Jersey family law indicate that the law of the originating jurisdiction should apply, even if the New Jersey court has the power to make modifications to the order. As a result, the appeals court reversed the family court order, applying Pennsylvania law which relinquishes a parent’s child support obligation once a child turns 18 and finishes high school.

Contact a Knowledgeable Family Law Attorney for Help in Your Case

If you’re in need of compassionate, experienced, and talented legal help with a divorce or child support dispute in New Jersey, contact the Union offices of family law attorney John B. D’Alessandro at 908-964-0102.

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