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When an order for child support is entered, the state where the order was entered will have continued exclusive jurisdiction over the order. Only that state may enforce or modify the order. Therefore, the obligations generally do not change unless all parties have left the state and a modification to the order has been made. Furthermore, if one party has left the state, a number of tools are available to enforce the child support order. In this article, we address the following concerns in an Iowa child support enforcement case: What if one party leaves the state with jurisdiction over the order?, What happens when all parties leave the original state?, How is my child support order enforced if one party moves to another state?, and What if I can’t find the party / parent?
When an order for child support is entered, the state where the order was entered will have continued exclusive jurisdiction over the order. Only that state may enforce or modify the order. Therefore, the obligations generally do not change unless all parties have left the state and a modification to the order has been made. Furthermore, if one party has left the state, a number of tools are available to enforce the child support order.
What if one party leaves the state with jurisdiction over the order?
Under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), if at least one parent still lives in the state that entered the first child support order, the state where the child support order was entered has continuing exclusive jurisdiction over the case. This means that state is the only state that can change the order. If either the custodial or non-custodial parent wants to change the child support order, they must apply for modification through the court in the same state that entered the first child support order.
What happens when all parties leave the original state?
If both parties have moved out of the state which issued the child support order, the same rules will be used to determine whether the new court has jurisdiction for the modification of the order that was used when the original child support order was issued. In short, under the UIFSA, a state can get or keep personal jurisdiction over a non-custodial parent if:
- The non-custodial parent is personally served (given a copy of documents in person) with a summons or notice (an official document telling the parent that he or she is directed to come to court) within that state;
- The non-custodial parent voluntarily agrees to have the court of a particular state hear the matter;
- The non-custodial parent fails to contest (object to) the jurisdiction issue;
- The non-custodial parent lived with the child in the particular state at any point in the past;
- The non-custodial parent lived in the state before the child’s birth and provided prenatal expenses or support for the child;
- The child lives in the state as a result of the acts or directives of the non-custodial parent; or
- The non-custodial parent engaged in sexual intercourse in the state, and the child may have been conceived by that act of intercourse.
How is my child support order enforced if one party moves to another state?
If a parent or party who is supposed to be paying child support happens to move or live in another state than the state where the child support order was established, you still have the ability to enforce your child support order. The Office of Child Support Enforcement and/or the Department of Revenue can seek to have the parent’s child support obligation withheld from the parent or party’s paycheck. Additionally, these federal agencies can place a lien on the property that the parent owns in the state that has jurisdiction over the child support order or they can enter a foreign order to seek enforcement from states where the parent lives, works, or owns property to enforce the order and collect child support. If a foreign order is made, the foreign state can use its enforcement measures and legal authority to collect child support. This includes but isn’t limited to placing liens on property such as bank accounts, property and vehicles.
What if I can’t find the party / parent?
If a party who is obligated to pay child support has moved and you do not know where they live, a child support enforcement agency can ask and utilize an agency in states the parent is believed to live to take some form of action to attempt to locate the party. These agencies have access to large databases and tools not available to the general public which are often effective in helping track down the obligated party. Providing these agencies with information such as license plate number, social security number, prior employers, last known address and other information can help them in their search.
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