Emancipation State Jurisdiction

by Tony from Newton, New Hampshire


I have a support order to pay in Massachusetts. My daughter and her mother moved to Florida in July of 2011. She turned 18 in January of 2011 and quit school and had a baby in March of 2011.


They live in Florida and she is not in school and gets support and welfare benefits from the state of Florida.

I tried to take her to court in MA to end my support as I believe she is emancipated because she is 18 and not in school as well as has a baby and receives support. She still lives in her mothers home.

I was told by my lawyer today that MA court will not hear the case because they have no jurisdiction now, I had moved to New Hampshire a few years ago and now they live in Florida. I was under the impression that since she left and did not make arrangements with FL prior to moving that she was still to go by MA law and court appearances.

MA court is saying that I have to go to Florida for any future proceedings. I think this is unfair, especially since I should not be paying now and she is just trying to drag this on as long as possible. My court date in MA was supposed to be Nov. 16, (next week) and I just got word of this today.

My attorney says there is nothing I can do but I just can't accept this, it seems too unfair. I don't have the money to hire another lawyer from FL as well as fly there for proceedings. What are my rights? What can I do?

Answer to Florida Child Custody Question

Dear Tony,

You have legal representation advising you of your rights.

I suggest you go to your court hearing and plead your case to the judge.

According to the UCCJEA your home state can retain jurisdiction, but I think your problem here is that you are no longer a resident as you move to New Hampshire.

Because neither of the original parties lives in the original jurisdictional state, ie. Massachusetts, the state where the child resides assumes home jurisdiction.

That’s what it appears to be to me. In that case, you will have to plead your case in Florida, where indeed your daughter may be deemed emancipated.

There is a process to modify child support in Florida that you can use, but as the party bringing the action, you will probably be required to personally attend a hearing unless you ask the court by motion for a telephone appearance.

I would suggest you get legal advice from a Florida Family Law Attorney, and ask what would be your options as to how to proceed.

There are ways you can do this, but as this is not a straightforward uncontested case, you should get legal advice before attempting anything pro se. Have a look at the following very similar FAQs we have answered for more information.:

Visitation State Jurisdiction

Termination of Child Support in Florida

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