ILNews

Federal child support act trumps state act

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today that a federal act supersedes Indiana's statute regarding exclusive jurisdiction over two parties' child support order and affirmed the transfer of exclusive jurisdiction to a California court. In its ruling, the court had to decide whether or not the father still was a resident of Indiana in order to determine if the federal act applied to him. In In re the marriage of Mahmoud M. Basileh v. Arwa G. Alghusain, No. 29A02-0712-CV-1132, the Court of Appeals concluded the federal Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act controls over Indiana Code Section 31-18-2-5, Indiana's adoption of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act. Another panel of the Court of Appeals had previously ruled that the FFCCSOA's section pertaining to a state's continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over its own child support orders mirrors Indiana Code.

At issue was whether the Indiana court needed consent of both the mother, Arwa Alghusain, and father, Mahmoud Basileh, to grant Alghusain's motion to transfer jurisdiction over her children's child support matters to her home county of Monterey County, Calif. Basileh never consented to the change of jurisdiction and maintained that he was still a resident of Indiana even though he moved out of the country to take care of a sick relative and find employment. The UIFSA doesn't allow for an out-of-state transfer of exclusive jurisdiction when the parties or children don't reside in the state until all the parties file a written consent with the court. Under the FFCCSOA, Indiana wouldn't have continuing, exclusive jurisdiction if it isn't the child's state or the residence of one of the parties. In its decision to affirm the transfer of exclusive jurisdiction, the appellate court had to discern if the father was considered domiciled in Indiana at the time of the trial court's order. Basileh presented evidence from two filings to the trial court pertaining to the reasons for his move from Indiana, but the record contains no documentation of his claims he continues to rent a storage facility here, has an Indiana bank account, or has a permanent address in the state, wrote Judge Nancy Vaidik. In addition, the father's two filings have inconsistencies regarding the time he said he left Indiana to move overseas. Based on the evidence, Basileh failed to show a subjective intent to return to Indiana, she wrote. The appellate court found Basileh is no longer domiciled in Indiana and the state is not his place of residence for purposes of the FFCCSOA. As such, Indiana no longer has continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over the parties' child support order. In a footnote, the court encourages the Indiana General Assembly to revisit the language of I.C. Section 31-18-2-5(a) given the court's conclusion this subsection conflicts with federal law.
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  1. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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