When Not in Rome, Do as the Locals Do
Christopher Haugh and Gabriela Haugh were married in California and had
one child – a son. However, the marriage did not last, and Gabriela
was awarded child support for their son. In 2007, she and their child
moved to Texas, and in 2008, Christopher requested a modification of his
child support. The court modified his support obligation to $700.00 per
month. In 2011, Christopher moved to Nevada, and in 2013, he asked the
court to modify his child support order again. This time, Gabriela challenged
the court's authority to modify the support order arguing that the
court lacked jurisdiction because no one lived in California any more.
The trial court agreed with Gabriela that no one lived in California,
but until one of the parties actually changed the jurisdiction to another
state, California had to continue its jurisdiction.
Gabriela and the California Department of Social Services (Department)
appealed. Gabriela believed that as soon as everyone left the state, the
state no longer had jurisdiction, and no specific request was necessary
to change jurisdiction to another state. The Department also filed an
appeal, based on its interpretation of the Uniform Interstate Family Support
Act (UIFSA) and the Federal Full Faith and Credit Child Support Orders
Act (FFFCCSOA) providing for awarding, modifying and enforcing child support orders.
The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) is a group of laws concerning
which state should maintain control of child support orders. All of the
50 states have agreed to abide by them. The Federal Full Faith and Credit
Child Support Orders Act (FFFCCSOA) was enacted by the United States Congress
requiring states to honor the orders of the issuing states regarding child support.
The Appellate Court determined that the trial court misread the UIFSA and
FFFCCSOA, and that no specific request to another state must be made by
parties to obtain jurisdiction in the new state. As soon as all parties
left the original state of jurisdiction (and no written agreement between
the parties to maintain jurisdiction in the original state), that state's
In today's world, people move all the time and order must be maintained
in the best interests of the parties – and especially the children
for whom the orders were issued. The UIFSA and the FFFCCSOA were designed
to do just that.