New York Child Support Order Constitutes Impermissible Modification

Where a parent relocates to another state following a divorce, parties are often faced with the challenge of determining where to file post judgment motions.  In some cases, parties must also determine whether new – or different – orders are permitted under the laws of the state to which the former spouse moved.  In a relatively recent decision, a New York court addressed whether it was permitted to enter an entirely new child support order after a Connecticut order regarding the same children had expired.

The parties in this case were married in Connecticut and were the parents of three children.  When they separated, the mother moved with the children to New York while the father continued to reside in Connecticut.  As part of the divorce judgment, the court ordered the father to pay child support in the amount of $250.00 per week per minor child, and to continue providing the children with medical insurance at his sole expense. When the eldest son turned eighteen, the father’s support obligation terminated.

The mother subsequently filed a motion in New York seeking the reinstatement of child support.  In support of her motion, the mother claimed that under New York law, child support is payable until the age of twenty-one.  The father moved to dismiss the petition, arguing that the new order constituted an impermissible modification of the original order issued in Connecticut.  The court dismissed the father’s motion, however, and ordered him to pay child support in the amount of $350.00 per week.

On appeal, the Court noted that under the Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act, each state must give full faith and credit to another state’s validly issued child support order and shall not seek to modify such order except in limited circumstances.  That legislative scheme, coupled with the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, establishes that the state issuing a child support order retains continuing, exclusive jurisdiction as long as one of the parties continues to reside in the issuing state.  In this particular case, the Appellate Court found that the father continued to reside in Connecticut and, therefore, Connecticut retained exclusive jurisdiction over the support order at issue.  Because the Appellate Court also found that the new order constituted a modification, it ultimately concluded that the trial had acted without jurisdiction.

Should you have any questions regarding child support, or divorce matters in general, please feel free to contact Attorney Michael D. DeMeola, Esq.  He can be reached in the firm’s Westport office at (203) 221-3100 or by e-mail at mdemeola@mayalaw.com.

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