Case Update: Distinction between Child Support Jurisdiction and Custody Jurisdiction
In Tompkins v. Tompkins, (2020 Ark. App. 122 (Ark. App. 2020), the Arkansas Court of Appeals, Division IV, made certain that the parties understood the distinction between custody jurisdiction under the UCCJEA and child support jurisdiction under UIFSA.
The minor child had been residing in Germany with her mother for some time prior to the filing of a divorce action in Arkansas, where the father was a bona fide resident. Everyone acknowledged that the custody matters must be brought in Germany, which, at the time, was the minor child’s “home state” under the UCCJEA. At the trial, however, the mother requested child support from the father, and the trial court denied her request, accepting the father’s lawyer’s references to the UCCJEA and “the Hague Convention” (presumably referencing the Hague Child Abduction Convention). Neither the UCCJEA nor the Hague Abduction Convention have any relevance to child support. The appellate court corrected the misunderstanding, and cited to the Uniform Law Commission’s comments that speak to bifurcated cases, that UIFSA determines jurisdiction over child support, and the mother met the requirements outlined in UIFSA to make a child support request of the father in his residence of Arkansas. Note - UIFSA implements the Hague Maintenance Convention, which is law between the United States and Germany, so an appropriate analysis was conducted by referring to UIFSA to determine that child support jurisdiction was properly put before the Arkansas courts.