Enforcement and modification of support orders is always a important issue when one or both parties have moved to another state. Despite key reforms that have increased the uniformity and enforceability of support orders across state lines, the percentage of custodial parents who are not receiving child support payments remains at approximately 23%, with less than half receiving the full amount owed, according to the U.S. Census. Although the process of creating a truly functional interstate child support system is still evolving, a quick look at that evolution will help put the current child support laws of California into context.
Originally, custodial parents were on their own when it came to collecting delinquent child support payments. Even with a private attorney involved, getting your day in court was something that was often prohibitively expensive. Additionally, since child support orders are considered modifiable (as opposed to final judgments), many states took the position that they were not entitled to full faith and credit under the U.S. Constitution, meaning they had no obligation to adhere to the originating state’s laws. Compounding this lack of enforceability was the ability of obligors to modify and obtain orders in new states (often with lower payments) or move far enough away to avoid it altogether.
In 1992, the system that is currently in use by all states was implemented. The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) did away with the issue of multiple orders and instead required that only one state have child support jurisdiction at a time, referred to as continuing exclusive jurisdiction. Efficiency on the courts was a primary concern in the completely revised legislation, and this concern is reflected since exclusive jurisdiction is retained by the original, issuing state as long as any of the parents or the child remains a resident of it.
Modifying Interstate Child Support
If you are considering modifying a child support order in a new state, one of the first things to find out would be which state t has continuing exclusive jurisdiction. If any parent or child still lives in the state that originally issued the child support order, then that state retains exclusive jurisdiction over the case.
If both parents and children have moved to new states, then you would be able to file a petition to modify child support in your new home state. From there on, the new state will have the continuing exclusive jurisdiction to modify and enforce your order. However, individual state laws vary, so contacting a local attorney is essential if you are planning to change your support arrangement.
Enforcement Across State Lines
These days, parents are no longer alone when it comes to collecting delinquent payments. Child support enforcement offices across the country use state databases such as the DMV to track down parents that are evading payments – income and tax withholding as well as liens can be ordered against them. Before anything can be enforced, however, paternity must often be established.