Family Case Law Review: Zuri K. Jackson v. Demetrius Holiness

Case: Zuri K. Jackson v. Demetrius Holiness
Case Summary by Mike Kohlhaas, Bingham Greenebaum Doll
(with thanks to Kathleen Rudis) 


HELD:  The Indiana Court of Appeals held that the trial court did not err when it dismissed Mother’s petition to modify child support for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.  The Court found that Mother’s contention that the federal Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act preempts the Indiana statute based on the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act must fail given a contrary holding by the Indiana Supreme Court.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY: Mother and Father were married in 1995 in Indiana.  They had two children together. They were then divorced in 1996 in Nevada, with the Nevada dissolution decree including a child support order.  Mother and the children then moved back to Indiana, and Father moved to Maryland.

In 2002, Mother completed the necessary paperwork under the UIFSA to have the decree registered in Maryland.  In 2004, the Maryland court entered a consent order approving the parties agreement to increase child support.

In April, 2009, Mother filed her petition for modification of child support with the Allen County, Indiana, Circuit Court.  Father, who continued to reside in Maryland during that time, filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction under Trial Rule 12(B)(2).  The trial court dismissed Mother’s petition for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Mother filed a motion to correct error, which the trial court denied. This appeal ensued.

The Court noted that while Mother was a resident of Indiana, the parties had not filed a consent with the court having continuing jurisdiction under UIFSA to transfer jurisdiction to the Indiana court.  Thus, the Court found that under the statute, an Indiana court could not have subject matter jurisdiction to modify the child support order.

Mother contended that the FFCCSOA  preempted the Indiana statute based on the UIFSA because the Indiana Act does not impose a non-residency requirement.  However, the Indiana Supreme Court has previously held that the FFCCSOA does not preempt UIFSA, as “[t]he very fact that Congress mandated that all fifty states adopt UIFSA strongly mitigates against construction of FFCCSOA that would impliedly preempt UIFSA to any degree.”

Although Mother did not prevail in this appeal, the Court paused to note what it found to be an incongruity in the statutory scheme.  Relevant to this case, the Court discussed that Indiana may modify an out-of-state child support order only if neither the child nor either parent lives in the issuing state, the person seeking modification is a non-resident of Indiana, and the person against whom modification is sought is subject to personal jurisdiction in Indiana.  However, the Court found that because the incongruity between the statutory sections is a legislative matter, it must conclude that the trial court did not err in dismissing Mother’s petition to modify because she is not a non-resident petitioner as required by Ind. Code Section 31-18-6-11.

In sum, the trial court did not err when it dismissed Mother’s petition to modify child support for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

OUTCOME: Affirmed.

To view the text of this opinion in its entirety, click here: Zuri K. Jackson v. Demetrius Holiness

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

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