Florida Court Discusses Federal Jurisdiction Over State Custody Matters

When people argue over matters such as child custody and visitation, they will often ask a court to resolve issues pertaining to parental rights. Typically, such cases are filed in state courts in the counties in which the parties live. As federal courts have limited jurisdiction over matters that do not arise under Federal law, they rarely, if ever, have the authority to modify orders issued by state courts such as those set forth in a custody matter. The inability of a federal court to exercise jurisdiction over a state custody case was the topic of a recent ruling issued in a Florida district court in a case in which the plaintiff argued his parental rights were unduly violated. If you need assistance with a custody matter, it is advisable to speak to a trusted Florida child custody lawyer regarding your options.

History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff filed an action in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, asking the court for relief from an order issued by a state court that terminated his parental and visitation rights, which he asserted was entered without jurisdiction or probable cause. Specifically, he asserted that he was denied the opportunity to present evidence or garner the assistance of an attorney. The plaintiff’s complaint also alleged that his due process rights were violated and he was victimized in the State of Florida. The court ultimately denied his motion.

Federal Jurisdiction Over State Custody Matters

Upon reviewing the pleadings, the court found the plaintiff’s motion to be facially deficient. The court explained that Rule 60(d)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows for judgments to be set aside for fraud on the court. A party seeking such relief, though, must establish via evidence that is convincing and clear that the adverse party obtained the verdict via fraud. In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiff failed to plead any facts that established fraud in his complaint. Thus, denial of his motion was warranted.

The court also noted the motion should be denied on its merits. The court elaborated that it is well established that only the United States Supreme Court has the authority to modify or reverse a state-court judgment in an appellate proceeding. As such, the court lacked the jurisdiction over the matter needed to grant the plaintiff the relief sought. Finally, the court explained that, as a general rule, federal courts refuse to hear cases involving child custody actions, divorce, and alimony as there is a strong state interest in domestic relations matters. Thus, the court denied the plaintiff’s motion.

Meet with a Trusted Florida Attorney

Custody disputes are often not only emotionally charged but also legally complicated as well. If you have questions regarding a child custody issue, you should meet with an attorney to discuss your rights. The trusted Florida family law attorneys of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A., are proficient at navigating the complexities of child custody cases, and if you hire us, we will gather the evidence needed to provide you with a strong chance of a favorable result. You can reach us via our form online or by calling us at 800-283-7442 to schedule a conference.





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