Can a court outside of Wisconsin order me to pay child support? | Sterling Law Offices, S.C. global $post;
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– from Jacqueline V. in West Milwaukee, WI

Question Details:

My husband and I were divorced several years ago here in Wisconsin, and I was awarded custody. Due to circumstances beyond my control, my ex-husband took custody of our children about a year ago while he was living in another state. Now, he wants child support. He says he is filing in the state where he currently lives. Can a court from another state order me to pay child support?

Family Law Attorney Response:

Yes they can, and for several reasons. How this would play out in court would depend on the specifics of your situation. I understand you said that he took custody, but did you mean custody, or guardianship? This may not change the outcome, but it would provide a little more context into your situation.

In the case of Louisiana ex rel. Eaton v. Leis, 120 Wis. 2d 271, 354 N.W.2d 209 (Ct. App. 1984), a father was awarded custody during a divorce in Wisconsin. Custody then reverted to the mother in Louisiana. She pursued child support from her state, and the father appeared in court in Wisconsin. The court concluded that it did not have subject matter jurisdiction due to its having gave custody to the father. The wife appealed, and the decision was reversed. Despite the confusion of vested authority on subject matter jurisdiction, the responsibility to pay support after a claim was filed lands on any non-custodial parent regardless of state.

However, I would still advise you to speak to an experienced family lawyer. They will speak on your behalf, and represent your best interests in court. They will further assist you in navigating the legal waters surrounding support amounts, and possible back support.


Dan Exner, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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