Feb 20, 2023

Pro bono win in 5th Circuit Court of Appeals

Deutsch Kerrigan is proud to announce the successful efforts of a major pro bono matter after winning in the trial court and now on appeal.  Ted Le Clercq has advocated for the child support, on a pro bono basis, from the beginning in 2019, and has also worked with the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s office.

In the most recent development, Joe McReynolds and Ted Le Clercq persuaded Louisiana’s Fifth Circuit in a pro bono case to affirm and enforce the child support obligations that a Spanish father, residing in Jefferson Parish, owed to his Spanish son, residing in Spain, pursuant to Articles 1306.2 and 1306.5 in Title XIII of Louisiana’s Children’s Code. Title XIII is Louisiana’s version of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, or UIFSA. 

The principal issue on appeal was whether the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction under La. CH. Code Article 1302..4((A), as the father argued, or whether the court had jurisdiction to enter the support decree pursuant to La. Ch. Code Article 1304.1(A), a res nova issue in Louisiana.  The Fifth Circuit panel, with Judge Johnson speaking for the Court, agreed with Ms. Navarro-Munoz, the child’s mother, that jurisdiction fell under Article 1304.1(A) and that to apply Article 1302.4(A) as the father argued “would lead to profoundly absurd and perverse consequences” by allowing the father “to escape his support obligations altogether” and “defeat the very purpose of the UIFSA and frustrate the obligation imposed on the State of Louisiana under” the Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support. 

There were multiple successful proceedings, over a number of years, at the trial court level before the case went on appeal.  The hearing officer ruled in favor of the child support, and that ruling was confirmed by the trial court.  Now the Louisiana Fifth Circuit’s decision is major ruling recognizing the child’s rights to the support obligations from both parents, under state and international law:  “’Child support is a continuous obligation of both parents, children are entitled to share in the current income of both parents, and children should not be the economic victims of divorce or out-of-wedlock births’ or annulments, for that matter.” The Court is to be applauded.

The case has been hotly litigated here for 4 years, with rulings favoring the child support at each level of the proceedings here.