We now live in a very mobile society, and I don't have to tell you this causes incredible complications in the world of child support. So, for purposes of our example here, let's say Mom and Dad lived in Texas when they had Sissy and Jr. Mom has since moved to Kentucky and Dad has moved to Tennessee.
Fortunately, Congress has enacted the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) to prevent total chaos in child support matters as parents like the Mom and Dad in this series of lessons move from state to state. All 50 states have adopted UIFSA, so we can effectively deal with these issues and determine which state has jurisdiction to establish, enforce, or to modify, a child support order according to a standard set of procedures. Kentucky’s UIFSA laws are found in KRS 407.
I cannot possibly do justice to all of the terms of UIFSA in a this Lesson, and as these jurisdictional questions get very complicated, I should now reiterate that I am not your lawyer, but am simply offering an overview of the law for your edification.
That being said, I can tell you that in the most basic and general terms, for purposes of establishment, enforcement or modification of a child support order, UIFSA provides for Kentucky, for example, to assert “long-arm” personal jurisdiction over Dad, a non-resident of KY, if one of 8 specific circumstances exist.
KRS 407.5201 provides for jurisdiction if:
(1) The individual is personally served with summons, or notice within this state;
(2) The individual submits to the jurisdiction of this state by consent, by entering a general appearance, or by filing a responsive pleading having the effect of waiving any contest to personal jurisdiction;
(3) The individual resided with the child in this state;
(4) The individual resided in this state and provided prenatal expenses or support for the child;
(5) The child resides in this state as a result of the acts or directives of the individual;
(6) The individual engaged in sexual intercourse in this state and the child may have been conceived by that act of intercourse;
(7) The individual asserted parentage in the putative father registry maintained in this state by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services; or
(8) There is any other basis consistent with the constitutions of this state and the United States for the exercise of personal jurisdiction.
So, if Kentucky has jurisdiction over Tennessee Dad through one of these criteria, the child support litigation can be initiated in Kentucky if there is no child support proceeding pending in any other state. This is considered to be the “One State” proceeding. Kentucky could then, according to KRS 407.5205(1), enforce or modify its own child support order as long as one or both parents, or the child, remains a resident of Kentucky, or until both parents file written consents for a court in another state to modify the order and assume its own continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over the matter.
On the other hand, if Kentucky does not have long-arm jurisdiction over Dad, or there is already an ongoing proceeding in Tennessee or some other state about the child support for Jr., a separate set of rules and procedures are used to decide which state should take the case. That is considered the “Two State” process, or we could even call it the Texas Two-Step. Let’s talk about that in Lesson 24.
Now you know how to determine whether Kentucky has jurisdiction over a non-resident for the purpose of conducting child support proceedings here. As you ponder this further, I hope you at least see that because all of Dad's exes live in Texas, hey may have reason to hang his hat in Tennessee!