Vailas: An Ill-Conceived Limit on Modifying Child Support Orders
Jeffrey A. Parness
Northern Illinois University - College of Law
March 11, 2011
Illinois Bar Journal, Vol. 99, p. 160, 2011
Does an Illinois circuit court have authority to modify a child support order on behalf of a child permanently living with a parent in Illinois, thereby altering the support obligations of a nonresident parent who is accorded all the federal constitutional due process protections against inconvenient forums?
Surprisingly, and unfortunately, for now the answer is “no.” Illinois parents seeking additional help for Illinois children could be obliged to travel to remote locations to secure necessary child support. The question arose in Vailas v. Vailas, 939 N.E.2d 565 (Ill. App. 1st 201'7, a decision of “first impression in Illinois” but not, one hopes, of lasting impression.
The troubling response was demanded by the Illinois version of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act. 750 ILCS 22/101 et seq. In the case, the Act was read to deny to an Illinois court jurisdiction over a Texas father in order to modify a Texas child support order benefitting an Illinois child. The Act was intended to protect a nonresident from having to litigate “far away.” But it effectively forced an Illinois mother and child to litigate “far away.” The Act should be amended to allow broader jurisdiction in Illinois to modify sister state child support orders. Any inconvenience to nonrersident parents can be handled by the forum non conveniens doctrine, as is done in Illinois when initial child support orders are sought, or when sister state child support orders are enforced, against nonresident parents.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 2
Keywords: Child Support, Personal Jurisdiction, Family Law, Parenthood, Full Faith and Credit
Date posted: March 12, 2011