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Does Florida Have Jurisdiction Over Your Child Support Case?

Does Florida Have Jurisdiction Over Your Child Support Case?

child support jurisdiction

In this article we’ll break down:


No matter the circumstances, child support is stressful for every family. For the parent receiving support, there’s always a fear of missed payments and what that means for paying bills and putting food on the table. For the parent paying, the financial pressure and legal ramifications surrounding support are always looming over their head.

Then, when interstate child support jurisdiction issues get thrown into the mix, we see the concern our clients have about support tick up even higher.

The good news, however, is that, while the process may be a bit more complicated, there are laws in place to make sure that parents meet their support obligations, regardless of where they move throughout the county. Those laws are guided by the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.

The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act & Child Support Jurisdiction in Florida

The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) was enacted in 1996 to create a national standard for enforcing child support orders across state lines.

The UIFSA established rules to enforce family support orders. It addressed injunction standards, including continuing exclusive jurisdiction by state.

How to Determine Jurisdiction When Establishing or Modifying a Child Support Order in Florida

The Florida court views its personal jurisdiction over a nonresident individual in several ways depending on the circumstances of the parent and his or her involvement with their child.

Here’s a breakdown of the circumstances where Florida’s family court will exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident parent in a child support case.

  • The parent is served with the summons or notice in Florida
  • The parent submits consent to Florida’s jurisdiction, waiving any contest to personal jurisdiction elsewhere
  • The parent lived in Florida with his or her child
  • The parent lived in Florida while providing prenatal expenses or other forms of support for their child
  • The child lives in Florida directly because of the acts or directives of the now out-of-state parent
  • The parent may have conceived the child in Florida
  • The parent asserted parentage of the child in either a tribunal or putative father registry in Florida
  • Any other situation within the constitutions of Florida and the United States that would allow the Florida court to exercise personal jurisdiction

Despite this long list of circumstances, child support jurisdiction can still create a lot of confusion for parents. Below are answers to the most common questions we receive about child support jurisdiction in Florida.

What if You Petition for Child Support and the Other Parent Lives Out of State?

Let’s assume you are a Florida resident who needs to petition for child support from your ex-spouse or ex-partner. That ex-partner moved out of the state before you filed your petition for child support. So, does Florida have personal jurisdiction to establish and enforce a child support order.

If one of the items on the list of Florida child support jurisdiction terms holds true in your case, then you can file your petition in Florida. The most common ground for jurisdiction is your ex-partner’s past residence. If the parent lived with your child in Florida at any point, Florida courts can exercise personal jurisdiction.

What if One Parent Moves Out of State After the Child Support Order is Established?

Life eventually moves on and circumstances evolve after child support is ordered. You and your child may move to a new home, or your ex-spouse may decide to relocate.

When circumstances change and one parent moves out of state, do you need to create a new child support order?

Not necessarily. If your child support order was established in Florida, and you or your child still reside in the state, then the Florida court will maintain exclusive personal jurisdiction over the order. The same is true for any modifications to the original child support order.

What if Both Parents Move, Each One to a Different State and No Longer Live in the State Where the Original Child Support Order Was Issued?

If both parents and the child move out of the state and no longer reside in Florida, the child support order remains under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Florida court. This is the case unless or until all parties file their consent in a Florida Court that another state will take over jurisdiction. 

The courts operate child support jurisdiction in exclusive terms, with the most recent jurisdiction holding exclusive jurisdiction until it’s requested. Otherwise, jurisdiction could potentially move each time one of the parties in the support agreement relocates, causing a lot of confusion and potentially emotional, financial, and legal stress on everyone.

Enforcing Child Support Across State Lines

Accountability is a big question that comes up in interstate child support cases. The parent who receives payment is understandably concerned that their ex-spouse’s move outside of the state could mean that a late child support payment, or a failure to pay, could be more difficult to enforce.

So, what happens if the out-of-state parent misses a payment or tries not to pay?

Child support is enforceable across state lines. The primary purpose behind the UFISA is to standardize state child support guidelines so there can be support on a national level when those orders need to be enforced from state to state.

The UFISA requires that states work together to enforce the payment of support from one parent to another across state lines. So, if your ex-spouse moves from Florida to California, your Florida child support order is just as enforceable as it was before he or she moved. If payments are missed, the state of Florida will work with, in this case, the state of California to ensure the order is enforced.

Modifying or Challenging Conflicting Interstate Child Support Orders

Sometimes child support orders need to be modified when circumstances change. With interstate child support orders, however, those circumstances can get complicated.

The UFISA intends to ensure that only one child support order be issued at any given time to one family. But sometimes families end up with two orders; one from each state. This is known as having conflicting or contemporaneous child support orders. 

If this happens, you can try to challenge one of the support orders. Or attempt to modify one of the orders in your and your child’s favor.

When approached with conflicting child support orders, Florida family courts look for which order is the controlling order. They consider the following when determining if the state has what’s called ‘continuing exclusive jurisdiction.’

  1. If a court in the state of Florida issues a child support order consistent with the law, it will exercise continuing exclusive jurisdiction of the support order, including continuing exclusive jurisdiction to modify the order if:
    • At the time of the petition for the modification of the child support order is submitted, Florida is the residence of the obligor, the individual obligee, or the child; or

    • Even if the state is not the residence of any of these individuals, each party consents in a record or in open court that the tribunal of Florida may continue to exercise jurisdiction to modify the support order.
  2. A parent attempting to modify a child support order issued in another state must register that order in the state of Florida, in the same manner they would have if they were registering a new order. In other words, the out-of-state child support order does not just magically transfer to the new state without going through the proper channels.

Find the Right Florida Family Law Lawyer to Help You Navigate the Jurisdiction of Your Child Support

Contact us today for a free family law case evaluation. We’ll listen to your case and explain your rights. When you’re ready to work with an experienced Florida family law and divorce lawyer to help you file for divorce, fill out the form on our Contact Us page or give us a call at (954) 880-1302.