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. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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