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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  2. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  3. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  4. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  5. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

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