Can Closed Child Support Cases Be Reopened In A New State?

Mens divorce lawyerQuestion:

Do child support laws allow a closed child support case in one state to be opened in another state where there is a higher age of emancipation?

We were divorced in one state (Texas) and my ex-wife and child live in another state (Missouri). The case jurisdiction was never moved to Missouri.

Per Texas child support laws, my child was emancipated earlier this year when she turned 18 and graduated high school so my child support case was closed.

Now my ex-wife wants to continue child support until our daughter is 21, which is the age of emancipation in Missouri if the child is in college.

Can a closed child support case in one state be opened in another state if the age of emancipation is different?

Answer:

This answer only includes general divorce help for men since I am only licensed to practice in Missouri and am thus unable to provide any specific legal advice on divorce.

In Missouri, child support generally will continue to be paid until the child reaches age 18 if enrolled in high school or age 21 if enrolled in college or technical training program beyond high school.

The primary question that you have is whether your ex-wife can modify your Texas divorce decree and use Missouri law. The federal government recognized that some parties may attempt to abuse the legal system by moving to a more advantageous state so that amount of child support will increase or the term for how long the support will be paid may increase.  To curtail these types of abusive actions, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act was created, commonly known as the UCCJEA.

The UCCJEA provides for enforcement of pre-existing orders. Basically, your ex-wife would need to register the Texas judgment in Missouri to enforce the order in Missouri.

If your ex-wife wants to modify a portion of the existing order, the judge will likely look to Texas law to determine whether Texas allows for such a provision. If Texas does not allow for child support beyond age 18 then the judge might not find in your ex-wife’s favor.

Please understand that my opinions are based upon the limited facts that you provided to me. For a more in depth discussion of fathers rights, I urge you to contact a divorce lawyer immediately.

To set up an appointment with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Michelle Hughes, an Associate Attorney in the Jefferson County, Missouri office, please contact Cordell & Cordell.

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