Issue: Modification of foreign child support orders
Mom appealed FC’s Order dismissing her motion to modify a child support order originally entered in Florida. FC dismissed the motion, holding that, although the court may have personal jurisdiction over Dad, it did not have subject matter jurisdiction over a proceeding to modify the order.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND:
Paternity judgment entered in FL in December 2006. Mom moved to KY in 2007, and in April 2008, filed a Notice and Affidavit of Foreign Judgment Registration of FL paternity judgment in Fayette FC, followed by a petition and motion to modify the child support. At hearing, Dad argued by special appearance that he was not a KY resident, had not been served in KY, and that none of the criteria in KRS 407.5201 were met and, therefore, FC did not have jurisdiction. FC ultimately dismissed that action, finding that it did not have personal jurisdiction over Dad. After Dad appealed this decision, CA affirmed FC, noting in its decision that “any increase in child support requested by the obligee must be sought in the state of residence of the obligor.” Mom filed a new motion to modify the child support order in KY in 2010. Dad, who was in KY to spend time with the child, was personally served at that time. FC dismissed the new motion to modify the child support order, observing that, while under KRS 407.5201(1) a court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident who has been personally served in this state, it must also have subject-matter jurisdiction under the requirements of KRS 407.5611 before it can modify a child support order from another state; that, according to KRS 407.5611, a requirement for subject-matter jurisdiction to modify a foreign child support order is that the party seeking modification must not reside in this state; and as Mom resided in KY, KY does not have subject-matter jurisdiction to modify FL child support order. Mom unsuccessfully argued that the Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act (“FFCCSOA”) preempted the subject-matter jurisdiction requirements of UIFSA and allowed FC to modify the child support order. Mom appealed.
CA held that even though personal jurisdiction was acquired over Dad in July 2010, the foreign order was not effectively registered in order to confer subject-matter jurisdiction. When Dad was served, no registered order existed because the 2008 registration occurred when KY did not have personal jurisdiction over him. According to FFCCSOA, registration of the parties’ Florida support order would only have been effective in Kentucky if Kentucky had personal jurisdiction over Dad at the time of registration.
Further, FC did not have subject-matter jurisdiction under state law. Under Kentucky’s UIFSA statutes, the family court would only have had subject-matter jurisdiction if Roberts had been a nonresident of Kentucky when she filed her motion to modify.
Since a court must have both personal and subject-matter jurisdiction to address modification of another state’s child support orders, and FC did not have subject-matter jurisdiction, it had to dismiss Mom’s motion. CA noted that personal jurisdiction is something the court may exercise whereas subject-matter jurisdiction is mandatory. Lastly, as CA found no contradiction between Kentucky’s UIFSA provisions and FFCCSOA, it made no determination regarding whether FFCCSOA preempts Kentucky UIFSA statute.