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Former Giants Running Back Makes End Run Around New Jersey Court as to Child Support

By Snyder & Sarno on March 06, 2014

            In order for a child support award to be entered by the New Jersey Family Court, the Court must have jurisdiction over the child support dispute. Issues involving jurisdiction are often complicated and depend on the facts of each case. When issues of child support reach across state borders, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) determines which state has jurisdiction over the case.

            Under UIFSA, once a state obtains jurisdiction over a child support case, it retains continuing exclusive jurisdiction over that case. What that means was decided in a recently published New Jersey trial court case, Johnson v. Bradshaw. This case involved a dispute between former New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw and his child’s mother.

            While the parties were never married, a child was born of their relationship in Virginia in 2010. At that time, Bradshaw was still playing for the Giants and living in Clifton, New Jersey, but neither his child nor the child’s mother lived in New Jersey. In June 2011, the mother initiated a child support action against Bradshaw in New Jersey, and the Court entered a temporary child support order, making clear that the amount would have no effect on the final order of child support. Once this was entered, neither party requested a hearing for a final order, nor did the court provide a date for one.

            In 2013, Bradshaw was released from the Giants and chose to play for the Indianapolis Colts. Therefore, he moved out of New Jersey and bought a house in Virginia. Once he was domiciled in Virginia, Bradshaw moved to dismiss the child support action in New Jersey because New Jersey could no longer have continuing exclusive jurisdiction.

            The Court analyzed the legislative comments to UIFSA, as well as case law from other jurisdictions, and determined that it had jurisdiction to enforce its previous order. Thus, if Bradshaw had stopped making his child support payments, the New Jersey Family Court had jurisdiction to take enforcement action against him, such as revoking his driver’s license. However, the Court held, it did not have jurisdiction to modify the support order because neither the defendant, the plaintiff, nor the child lived in New Jersey, and thus New Jersey no longer had continuing exclusive jurisdiction. This means that the Court did not have the authority to weigh new evidence to determine what the final order of child support should be.

            This case shows the complexity of jurisdictional issues when dealing with child support issues that reach across state lines. If you have a similarly situated child support issue, you should contact an experienced family lawyer who will be able to assist you in determining which state has jurisdiction over your child support case.

            If you have questions about your child support case, please contact the experienced attorneys at Snyder & Sarno at (973) 274-5200.

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