Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Family Law Procedure

What happens if parties move to a different state while a child support or child custody case is pending in Florida? In the case Ivko v. Ger, 233 So.3d 1269 (Fla. 3d DCA 2018), this issue came up and the trial court’s decision to transfer a paternity case from Florida to Pennsylvania caused the mother to file an appeal.

The parties began their paternity case in 2011. After the court declared paternity and issued temporary child support, the mother was permitted to relocate from Florida to Pennsylvania with the parties’ children. Concurrently, the trial court entered an order transferring the entire case to Pennsylvania, including the child custody portion. This transfer order was eventually vacated when the State of Florida, Division of Child Support Enforcement, filed a motion to vacate on grounds that the trial court did not have jurisdiction to transfer the case outside of the State of Florida based on Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.060.

Years later, the father filed a motion to transfer jurisdiction from Florida to Pennsylvania and his motion was granted over the mother’s objection. The mother appealed, and the appellate court reversed the trial court’s order on two grounds: (1) The requirements of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) were not met and (2) the trial court had no authority to transfer the case out of state pursuant to the Rules of Procedure.

Under UIFSA, a court issuing a child support order has continuing exclusive jurisdiction to modify its order where the state remains the residence of either parent or remains the residence of the child for whom the support order was issued, or until all parties file written consent for another court of another state to modify the order and assume continuing exclusive jurisdiction. In this case, the father remained a resident of Florida and all the parties did not consent to transfer jurisdiction to Pennsylvania. Last, the trial court had no authority to transfer venue to another state under the Rules of Procedure where such rules only authorize transfers to other counties within the state of Florida.

If you are contemplating relocation to another state with your children while your Florida child custody case is pending, consult with a Miami child custody lawyer to determine your rights and obligations.