The 2023 Florida Statutes
It is clear that the circuit court did not comply with the requirements of section 61.528. The circuit court did not file the foreign judgment or the accompanying documents as required by section 61.528(2)(a), as the ex parte petition was not filed with the clerk of the circuit court. In addition, the circuit court did not provide the former husband with notice of the ex parte petition to domesticate the January 2020 North Carolina order in accordance with section 61.528(2)(b) and (3). Therefore, the former husband did not have an opportunity to contest the validity of the North Carolina order in accordance with section 61.528(4). Even if the former husband was aware of the North Carolina order or participated in the proceedings there, section 61.528 makes no exception for such a situation. In addition, neither the former wife's ex parte petition nor the circuit court's ex parte order domesticating the North Carolina order cite any applicable exception that would have permitted the circuit court to avoid the requirements of section 61.528.
(4) “Child custody proceeding” means a proceeding in which legal custody, physical custody, residential care, or visitation with respect to a child is an issue. The term includes a proceeding for divorce, separation, neglect, abuse, dependency, guardianship, paternity, termination of parental rights, and protection from domesticviolence, in which the issue may appear. The term does not include a proceeding involving juvenile delinquency, contractual emancipation, or enforcement under ss. 61.524–61.540. § 61.503(4), Fla. Stat. (2013) (emphasis added). As can be seen, the petition for domestication of foreign judgment and notice of registration filed by the mother, pursuant to sections 61.526 and 61.528, respectively, are expressly not included as “child custody proceedings” under the UCCJEA. The trial court order does not cite to, nor can we find, any statutory authority which requires that a proceeding be a “child custody proceeding” under the definition in the UCCJEA before the trial court can have jurisdiction to act upon a petition to domesticate a foreign custody order. To the contrary, both the statute governing domestication of a foreign judgment (section 61.526…
The mother's petition for enforcement and registration of the Jamaican judgment requested relief available under sections 61.528 and 61.531, Florida Statutes. Both statutes required the trial court to evaluate whether the father had proper notice and opportunity to be heard in the Jamaican proceedings. The father had notice of those proceedings and entered an appearance, having been represented by a Jamaican attorney until the attorney withdrew because of the father's failure to pay. The father had notice of all relevant hearings and even secured an order for the Jamaican authorities to conduct a social investigation. That he failed to appear at the final hearing or appeal the resulting custody order is, as `the trial court noted, not a failing of the Jamaican procedures but of the father. "The fact that their investigation and court proceedings were incomplete is the fault of Mr. Dyce not the Jamaican system of Justice."
The basis of the mother's argument that the trial court lacks jurisdiction to enforce the Massachusetts court order is that the father has not registered the Massachusetts court order in Florida. The mother relies on a provision of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, section 61.528(1), Florida Statutes (2006), which provides:
. . . of foreign judgment and notice of registration filed by the mother, pursuant to sections 61.526 and 61.528 . . . governing domestication of a foreign judgment (section 61.526) and registration of a judgment (section 61.528 . . . entertain the mother’s petition to domesticate under section 61.526 or the notice she filed under section 61.528 . . . See §§ 61.528(3)(a), (5), Fla. Stat. (2013). . . .
. . . for enforcement and registration of the Jamaican judgment requested relief available under sections 61.528 . . .
. . . mother relies on a provision of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, section 61.528 . . .