One of the most acute worries of a parent who is facing a divorce is what happens if the ex-spouse leaves the state. Can child support or alimony orders be enforced? Will enforcement involve travel to the state where the ex-spouse now lives? The answer to these and other related questions is supplied by the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act adopted by Florida’s legislature after Congress in 1996 instructed all states to adopt the law by 1998. In 2008, the commission that drafted the law made further changes to resolve ambiguities in the initial statute. Florida adopted these amendments in 2011.
How the law works
The law provides a broad definition of “jurisdiction.” Any person who submits to the jurisdiction of a Florida court by entering an appearance or otherwise waiving any objection to jurisdiction becomes subject to the jurisdiction of the court in Florida for any proceeding brought to enforce an order for child or spousal support. This provision means that a divorced person who continues to live in Florida and who has physical custody of any children can bring a motion in a Florida court to compel the defaulting party to make good on any delinquent support payments. The jurisdiction of the Florida courts to issue such orders endures until the support obligations have been fully satisfied.
If the custodial parent is the one who moved from Florida, that parent can commence a support enforcement obligation in his or her current state of residence, and the court in that state can forward any order to the proper court in Florida for enforcement.
Enforcing the law in another state
The act permits any court in Florida that has issued a support order to forward the order to a court in the state where the parent who is the object of the order currently resides. Likewise, an order obtained in another state can be sent to a court in Florida for enforcement.
The act contains a number of provisions that are intended to permit parents or ex-spouses to file a request for an order of support to be enforced in another state, but consulting an experienced divorce attorney may help avoid procedural errors. A capable family law attorney can prepare the forms, file them with the court, and make any necessary appearances. Using a divorce attorney to forward the order to the proper court in another state may also avoid unnecessary mistakes.