Out-of-State Parents and Child Support
When one parent lives in California and the other does not, the issue of child support can become complicated. The complication occurs because two different jurisdictions, in different states, will be involved in the child support order and payment process. It can be confusing to try to figure out which state family court to turn to for help. It can be helpful to seek the advice of a California divorce attorney to guide you through the process of obtaining child support from an out-of-state parent. There are several steps that must be taken to get child support from a parent that lives in another state.
Personal jurisdiction is a set of rules that determine whether a specific state court may hear a case involving certain individuals. In most cases, a state court may enter an order requiring payment of money from a parent who lives outside California. The requirement is that the out-of-state parent has a specific connection to the other state. It is this connection that gives the court something that is known as personal jurisdiction or jurisdiction over the person.
First Child Support Order
The court must have personal jurisdiction over both parents to hear a new child support case. This is simple enough if both parents and the child reside in the same state at the time the custodial parent first applies for a child support order.
Another situation where a state will continue to have personal jurisdiction over the non-custodial parent is when the whole family previously lived in the home state of the custodial parent and child.
If the court of the custodial parent’s home state does not have personal jurisdiction over the non-custodial parent, the child custody attorney for the custodial parent may file his or her application for child support in the non-custodial parent’s home state.
Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)
The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) is the law that helps courts decide which state will hear child support cases when parents live in different states. UIFSA typically obtains child support in three ways:
- Establishment by getting a court to issue the first child support order.
- Modification by changing the amount of a child support order when the income of either parent has changed.
- Enforcement by pursuing collection of the order.
Additionally, under UIFSA, a state may get or keep personal jurisdiction over a non-custodial parent if the non-custodial parent is personally served with a summons or notice within that state. Personal jurisdiction can also happen when the non-custodial parent voluntarily agrees to have the court of a particular state hear the matter or if the parent fails to object to jurisdiction.
The laws of the state that enters the first child support order are the laws that will determine how child support will be calculated and the end date of child support. Additionally, that state can also determine if parents should continue to contribute to the child’s college education.
When parents reside in different states, additional steps and forms will be needed to obtain child support. The process can be long and complex. It is advisable to discuss the interstate child support process with a licensed California family law attorney.