Appeal from a post-divorce decree district court order declining to take jurisdiction in a child support matter. Eighth Judicial District Court, Family Court Division, Clark County; Jennifer Elliott, Judge.
Reversed and remanded.
Greenberg & Nguyen, Attorneys, and Mike H.T. Nguyen, Las Vegas, for Appellant.
Joseph W. Houston, II, Las Vegas, for Respondent.
Douglas, J. We concur: Gibbons, C.J., Pickering, J., Hardesty, J., Parraguirre, J., Cherry, J., Saitta, J.
BEFORE THE COURT EN BANC.
In this opinion we consider whether a 1989 Nevada child support order is controlling under the Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1738B (2012), when the mother and children continuously resided in Nevada and the parents did not consent to the assumption of jurisdiction over and modification of the order by a court in Hawaii, the father's new state of residence. To do so, we must determine whether the Act applies retroactively. We hold that the Act applies retroactively, and that under it, Nevada has continuing, exclusive jurisdiction. Consequently, we conclude that the 1989 Nevada child support order controls.
Appellant Pamela Holdaway-Foster and respondent Robert Brunell divorced in Nevada in 1985. In the divorce decree, the district court granted Pamela custody of the parties' two children and ordered Robert to pay Pamela $200 per month in child support. In 1989, the district court increased Robert's child support obligation to $625 per month. Subsequently, Robert relocated to Hawaii and allegedly ceased making the child support payments.
After Robert's relocation to Hawaii, Pamela filed a uniform support petition in the Nevada district court, seeking to register the 1989 Nevada child support order in Hawaii, under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). The Hawaii court issued an administrative order that continued the 1989 Nevada child support order, mandating Robert to pay $625 per month in support and $50 per month toward arrears. Subsequently, Robert filed a motion in Hawaii contesting the child support order and asserting that he could not pay the requisite amount. In 1992, after holding a hearing on the matter, the Hawaii court entered an order reducing Robert's child support obligation to $350 per month, determining that Robert had already paid $15,000 toward child support, and directing him to pay $10 per month toward the remaining arrears. The Hawaii court notified Pamela of its decision.
Pamela sent a letter to the Clark County District Attorney's office in which she asserted that Robert did not make $15,000 in child support payments. The District Attorney's office forwarded the letter to the Hawaii Child Support Enforcement Agency, and a representative from the agency informed Pamela that she had 30 days to appeal the Hawaii court order and that although the Hawaii order did not supersede the Nevada order, Hawaii would nevertheless enforce its order. The representative also informed Pamela that she could pursue an action in Nevada to recoup the difference between the orders. Pamela did not appeal the 1992 Hawaii order.
In 1996, the Hawaii court entered another order further reducing Robert's child support obligation to $100 per month, but increasing his arrears payment to $50 per month. The Hawaii court once again notified ...