Navigating Child Support Orders Between Two States

Navigating Child Support Orders Between Two States

Every state must impose uniform guidelines for child support, which must account for the child's needs and well-being as well as the paying parent's other children and his or her ability to pay.

Enforcing a child support order can be difficult, especially when the person who should be paying lives outside of California. Luckily, the federal government successfully pushed every state to adopt the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), which requires states to work together to create and enforce child support orders.

Prior to the UIFSA, there was no coordination between states, resulting in conflicting orders and disputes over which state was entitled to collect child support. Now, only one state can issue one order at a time for a payor-child combination. The state that issues the order is the only state that can modify the order, as long as either the payor or child lives there.

Child Support Guidelines

Under the UIFSA, every state must enact Child Support Guidelines to aid courts and child support enforcement agencies in determining how much a non-custodial parent must pay. The Guidelines are to take into account the following factors:

If no child support order exists, the child's state of residency can establish and enter an order without dealing with another state. Or, a local child support agency can work with another state to secure an order or to have it enforced. The laws of the issuing state govern all aspects of a current order, including the handling of delinquent support payments.

Enforcement of an order is probably the most powerful aspect of the UIFSA. Families often rely heavily on a full and timely child support payment. A late, missed or partial payment can jeopardize a child's interests. State enforcement agencies have significant authority to enforce payment, including wage garnishment, tax refund interception, bank account levies and liens on property. Agencies can even go so far as to suspend professional, occupational and driver's licenses.

Child support payments are important to children and are ordered for a reason. States take the failure to make payments very seriously. The UIFSA has created a uniform system nationwide to ensure that support orders are adequate, accurate and properly enforced.

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