Regulations for Child Support When Moving Out of State

By Travis Gray, J.D.

Regulations for Child Support When Moving Out of State

By Travis Gray, J.D.

When a family law court finalizes a child support order, it is immediately enforceable under the laws of that state until the order is modified or the child turns 18. It's important to note that under a uniform law adopted nationwide, other states uphold the requirements set out in a child support order. This means that you must continue to comply with a child support order even if you move to another state.

Father with suitcase talking to daughter as mother watches from the couch

The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act

When a parent that is subject to a child support order moves away from the state where the order was issued, federal law requires that the paying parent's new state enforce the order. The regulations for child support when moving out of state are governed by the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA).

While UIFSA applies across the country, it is not federal law. Instead, UIFSA is a uniform act that has been adopted in some form or another by every state in the country. Originally drafted in 1992, the act is designed to identify which state courts have the authority to modify or establish child support orders. It also provides a framework for enforcing a child support order against a parent that has moved out of state. UIFSA also provides a series of standardized forms that each state is required to use in interstate child support actions. You can find those forms on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.

Ultimately, UIFSA regulates finalized child support orders. But the terms of the child support orders in these cases were finalized in the original divorce case. With the proper legal guidance during the divorce process, it may be possible to secure child support terms that are fair for everyone involved.

Out of State Enforcement

Thanks to UIFSA, you can enforce a child support order across state lines. If a parent fails to make the payments required by the order, it may be possible to garnish their wages in the state that they are currently living in. Wage garnishment involves a court order that requires the parent's employer to withhold part of their paycheck and use that money to satisfy child support obligations. While you have to comply with the garnishment laws of the state where the nonpaying parent resides, it is possible to garnish their wages even if they are no longer in the state where the child support order originated. Even though an employer may not be particularly helpful, they cannot refuse to withhold wages once they have been served with a lawful garnishment.

In some states, there are even criminal repercussions for failing to comply with a child support order. However, it is notably more difficult to proceed with a criminal prosecution against a nonpaying parent in another state. The criminal charges must be filed in the state where the support order originated, and if the nonpaying parent has moved out of state, they must either voluntarily appear or be extradited in order to face charges. In most cases, neither option is likely.

Regardless of what state the other parent of your child moves to, any child support order is enforceable across state lines. Thanks to the UIFSA, it is possible to enforce those orders through wage garnishments or even criminal prosecution.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.

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