Families move around and can reside in different states. Once the parents decide to move away after getting a divorce or separation, the children may go with them too. However, for child support a parent is still legally responsible for making the payments. Enforcing the child support orders is important across state lines, therefore the interstate child support laws make it possible for the courts to do so. The state and federal governments need to have a coherent system in place that can allow them to do this without creating further problems.
Below are some of the principal laws governing the enforcement of child support across state lines:
- Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)
- Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act (PRWO)
- Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act (FFCCSOA)
- Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (UEFJ)
During any interstate child support process you need to seek assistance from another state’s child support agency to establish, enforce, or modify an existing child support order also known as the Interstate Action. Generally, the UIFSA is referreced for these cases. As part of the Welfare Reform Act of 1997, UIFSA became mandated by federal law and all states adopted uniform rules and created the same jurisdictional regulations for easier guidelines to follow.
UIFSA’s main governing rule is based on the concept of one order, one time, and one place. Before the UIFSA, and FFCCSOA permitted for more than one valid order to be in place and enforced for the same child or children in more than one state. However, these new acts help the child support agencies across the nation utilize a more structured set of rules to make determinations on which state and which order is legally valid.
Can a Different State Enforce Child Support If a Parent Moves Out of State?
The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) allows procedures for you to enforce child support order on a non-custodial parent who resides in another state. Here are some options to consider:
- As long as your state still has personal jurisdiction over your child’s parent, you can request that court impose enforcement of child support on him or her;
- If your state does not have personal jurisdiction over the child support payer, requesting the court in your state to forward the child support order to the court of the state where your ex spouse resides, and have that court enforce child support;
- File an enforcement of child support request in a court where the child’s other parent lives; and
- Send the child support order to your ex spouse’s employer and request the employer to garnish the amounts from his or her paychecks.
In addition to UIFSA, there are a couple of actions that can criminally penalize parents who are not fulfilling their legal obligations for payments. The Child Support Recovery Act of 1992 makes it a federal crime for a parent to refuse to pay child support to a parent living in another state. Furthermore, Congress also passed the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act of 1998, making it a felony for a parent who refuses to pay child support to a parent living in another state. If for some reason you are not able to locate your ex partner there are certain legal procedures that can help you locate the parent and enforce the child support payments.
The interstate process allows Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) to establish paternity, establish support orders, enforce support orders, and collect current and unpaid support from parents across state lines. The actions to be taken will depend on how much information you are able to provide.
For instance, if you can find the employer for the parent responsible for the payments, you can file for an interstate wage withholding. However, if you cannot locate that information the local state agency can guide you in this process. If they are still unable to locate them, a UIFSA action can be initiated that can ask the other state to enforce the child support order.
If you and your children are in another state, it should not affect your support if the non-custodial parents reside in the same county. But you may need to notify the CSEA of your new address. It is important to update your information to make sure the payments are received at the correct location. Therefore, it is suggested to notify the agency as soon as possible once you know that you are planning to move.
What is the Duration of Applying For an Interstate Request?
Different actions have distinct timelines, it generally varies depending on what action is necessary. If an interstate request is made to another state for enforcement of an order, it can take anywhere from several months to a year to get this case into court, especially if legal action is required. The CSEA will closely monitor the status of each request to ensure timeliness for each action that is properly filed with the court.
What Is the Process of Modifying the Interstate Child Support Order?
Either party can seek a modification of an order issued in another state. The issues related to who has authority to modify an order can get challenging to answer and complex. The CSEA has various tools available to make this decision. Here are some common situations:
- If either parent still lives in the state which issued the support order- and this is the only support order for this case- only that state has jurisdiction to modify the child sup order and;
- If neither of the parties reside in the state which initially issued the support order, the state in which the non-requesting party lives must register the order in that state that has jurisdiction to modify it.
It is important to keep in mind that when a state changes another state’s support it applies only to the amount of current support and medical support. It precludes the modification of spousal support. The duration of the duty of support is mandated by the laws of the state which issued the original controlling order.
How can the Parties Enforce the Interstate Child Support Orders?
Enforcement action may include, but is not limited to, the issuance of an income withholding order or administrative or legal action for non-compliance. If an income source is located for the parent paying the child support, who lives in another state, the state which issued the support order can send a direct income withholding order to this source.
In some circumstances, a CSEA in one state may need to coordinate with a CSEA in another state to enforce an order. If it becomes dire to take administrative and legal action against the parent responsible for the payments, the other parent may work directly with the state that issued the support order or contact their local CSEA representative.
When Do I Need to Hire an Interstate Child Support Attorney?
Enforcement of interstate child support is a complex issue. However, there are many regulations developed to ensure that the legally responsible parent for the child support payments does not use moving out of the state as an excuse to neglect the child support payments. Therefore, if you are struggling to enforce an existing order or are anxious about a move, you may seek out an interstate child support lawyer to assist you further with the process.