People seek to modify child support obligations for varying reasons: a change in income, the loss of a job, or other substantial changes to a parent’s financial situation. When you divorce in another state and move to Oklahoma, how do you handle the need to get a child support modification? The answer lies in the area of jurisdiction.
Questions of Jurisdiction Are Complicated
Courts in all states tend to maintain continuous jurisdiction over parents and minor children regarding issues of custody and support. Oklahoma follows this general rule. Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 551-202.
There are exceptions to this general rule. For instance, the court will no longer maintain exclusive and continuing jurisdiction when both the child and the parent or parents no longer reside in Oklahoma, or when the child or parents no longer have a significant connection to that state. Okla. Stat. tit. 43 §§ 551-202-203.
If the divorce occurs outside of the state of Oklahoma, but the child and parents live in Oklahoma, jurisdiction may pass to an Oklahoma court. This is done by motion before the court in Oklahoma, asserting that the prior jurisdiction is no longer convenient, listing the reasons why that is true, and indicating the reasons that the Oklahoma court may take jurisdiction. Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 551-207, 209. The details that must be included are fairly specific, and it is always best to have an attorney draft this motion before the court. The motion for modification is usually attached to this motion requesting the court to take jurisdiction, and will be heard if the court does take jurisdiction.
Notice of Hearing
Any time a former spouse seeks to have an Oklahoma court handle a child support modification, notice must be given of the intended court proceeding either by actual service of process, or by publication, if service of process is not possible. Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 551-108.
Limitations on Jurisdiction
The jurisdiction of the court is limited to the family matter at issue and does not extend to any other purpose. Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 551-109. That means that an ex-spouse may appear on the family law matter without fear that they will have to then appear in a totally unrelated proceeding just by virtue of having come into the state.
Courts Will Communicate
The courts in the separate states take care to coordinate and communicate regarding all the court matters at issue. Likewise, the out-of-state court can help coordinate the testimony of witnesses located out of state and the production of other evidence. Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 551-111.
This is not a motion that you should try to take care of yourself. Both motions require a high level of expertise. Hire an experienced divorce lawyer Tulsa trusts.
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