Kentucky Supreme Court Hears Child Support And Child Custody Jurisdiction Issues

The digest follows for Nordike v. Nordike, 2004-CA-002242-MR, designated not to be published. Discretionary review was granted by Supreme Court 5/10/06 and oral arguments were held 5/17/07. You can read the briefs filed in the Kentucky Supreme Court here, courtesy of SCOKY Blog, via Chase Law School.

The promised summary:
Issue and Holding:
Whether Kentucky has jurisdiction over the child support provision of the parties’ Kansas divorce decree. The Court held no, because the jurisdictional requirements of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act have not been met.

The parties divorced in 1997 in Kansas. The parties were awarded joint custody of their one daughter, with the father designated as the primary residential custodian. Neither party was ordered to pay child support. In 2000, the father moved to Ohio and the Kansas court modified the decree, designating the mother as the primary residential custodian and requiring the father to pay child support. The mother and child then moved to Kentucky, and the father moved to Colorado.
Pursuant to the UCCJA, in 2003 the Warren Family Court entered an agreed order, acknowledging registration of the modified Kansas decree and that Kentucky had jurisdiction over custody and visitation issues. The Kentucky court then denied the father’s motion to be designated sole custodian or the primary residential parent. However, the court did modify visitation under the decree to reflect the large distance between the parties. The mother then moved for the Kentucky court to modify its agreed order to state that Kentucky also had jurisdiction over child support issues. The court denied the motion, and mother appealed.

Modifications of child custody and child support issues have different jurisdictional requirements. Jurisdiction to modify custody is governed by the UCCJEA, while jurisdiction to modify support issues is governed by the UIFSA. Therefore, a Kentucky court has jurisdiction to modify the Kansas child support order only if the requirements of KRS 407.5611 are met.
The requirements of KRS 407.5611(a) are not met, since the petitioner, the mother, is a Kentucky resident and the Kentucky court does not have personal jurisdiction over the respondent, the father. The Court rejected the argument that the father is subject to personal jurisdiction based on his participation in the Kentucky custody case.
The requirements of KRS 407.5611(b) are not met, because the Kansas court’s journal entry relinquishing jurisdiction over the custody matter to Kentucky does not reference child support or contend to reflect the parties’ consent. Therefore, it does not qualify as “written consent” as required by statute.
As such, the Kentucky court lacked both personal jurisdiction over the father and subject matter jurisdiction to modify the Kansas support order. AFFIRMED.
Digested by Sarah Jost Nielsen, Diana L. Skaggs + Associates