Phillips v. Missouri Department of Social Services Child Support Enforcement
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER...IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff Clint Phillips, IIIs motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Docket No. 2 ) is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiffs Motion for the Appointment of Counsel (Docket No. 4 ) i s DENIED as moot. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the complaint and all of plaintiffs causes of action against defendant are DISMISSED without prejudice. A separate Order of Dismissal will be entered herewith. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk shall not issue process or cause process to issue upon the complaint because this Court lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter of this case. Signed by District Judge Audrey G. Fleissig on 10/19/2016. (NEB)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
CLINT PHILLIPS, III,
MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL
SERVICES CHILD SUPPORT
No. 4:16CV1235 AGF
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Presently before the Court is the motion of plaintiff Clint Phillips, III for leave to
commence this action without prepayment of the required filing fee (Docket No. 2). Upon
consideration of the financial information provided with the motion, the Court finds that plaintiff
is financially unable to pay any portion of the filing fee. The Court will therefore grant plaintiff
leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. In addition, the Court has
reviewed the complaint and will dismiss it for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Court will
also deny, as moot, plaintiff’s motion for the appointment of counsel. (Docket No. 4).
Rule 12(h)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides: “If the court determines
at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.”
Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and names the Missouri
Department of Social Services, Child Support Enforcement Division, as defendant. Plaintiff
alleges that defendant failed to credit him for amounts he overpaid in child support, which
plaintiff characterizes as “extortion.” (Docket No. 1 at p. 4-5). Plaintiff also alleges that he did
not receive a hearing in his child support case.
Plaintiff asks this Court to award him
$3,000,000.00 in monetary relief.
This Court lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter of this case, i.e., child support.
There is no question that Plaintiff’s challenges to the actions of Missouri’s Division of Child
Support Enforcement are within the field of domestic relations, a field over which the federal
courts lack subject matter jurisdiction. See Kahn v. Kahn, 21 F.3d 859, 861 (8th Cir. 1994)
(“The domestic relations exception . . . divests the federal courts of jurisdiction over any action
for which the subject is a divorce, allowance of alimony, or child custody.”) (internal citations
omitted). “When a cause of action closely relates to but does not precisely fit into the contours
of an action for divorce, alimony or child custody, federal courts generally will abstain from
exercising jurisdiction.” Id. “Child support obligations [are] within the domestic relations
exception domain.” Lannan v. Maul, 979 F.2d 627, 631 (8th Cir. 1992). Based upon the
foregoing, the Court determines that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the claims in the
The Court also notes that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction to engage in appellate review
of state court decisions. Postma v. First Federal Sav. & Loan of Sioux City, 74 F.3d 160, 162
(8th Cir. 1996). AReview of state court decisions may be had only in the Supreme Court.@ Id.
Thus, to the extent that plaintiff can be understood to generally seek review of the Missouri child
support case in which he is presently involved, this Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain plaintiff=s
Therefore, for all of the foregoing reasons,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff Clint Phillips, III’s motion for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis (Docket No. 2) is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff’s Motion for the Appointment of Counsel
(Docket No. 4) is DENIED as moot.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the complaint and all of plaintiff’s causes of action
against defendant are DISMISSED without prejudice. A separate Order of Dismissal will be
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk shall not issue process or cause process to
issue upon the complaint because this Court lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter of this
Dated this 19th day of October, 2016.
AUDREY G. FLEISSIG
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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