Enforcing Child Support Out of State: The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act

 Credit for Child Support Orders Act, Full Faith and Credit Clause, Illinois Child Support Attorney, Martoccio & Martoccio, Sistare v. Sistare, Uniform Interstate Family Support ActX URESA“My spouse is required to pay child support by order of the court; what happens if he moves out of state?”

As the ease of changing residency increases, so does the number of people relocating throughout the country. There are more people than ever relocating for better employment opportunities, to be closer to family, or just for better weather.

No matter the reason for relocation, spouses subjected to support orders often take the relocation as an opportunity to stop paying court-ordered support payments. This creates an issue, because each state is independent in its laws and procedures regarding divorce and support payments.

Each state retains jurisdiction within its borders over the citizens of that state, the actions that take place there, and ancillary matters that necessitate the state’s involvement. A problem occurs when a person moves outside of the state’s borders and into the jurisdiction of another state.

Income withholding orders enforced by a state agency, for example, are limited by the state’s jurisdictional reach. Normally, out-of-state judgments are given credence in alternative jurisdictions under Article IV, Section 1 of the Constitution, better known as the Full Faith and Credit Clause.

Full Faith and Credit means that the independent states of the nation are required to respect the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. More often than not, courts and interpreters of the Constitution regard judgments as carrying heavier weight in foreign jurisdictions than the independent laws of each state. Under the Full Faith and Credit Clause, a divorce judgment awarding alimony or child support has to be respected by the courts of another state. However, for a long period of time, this was not the case.

1920 Limits on the Full Faith and Credit Clause

In 1920 the Supreme Court imposed limits on the Full Faith and Credit Clause in Sistare v. Sistare, stating that the continuing obligation of support orders was not enforceable across state lines. As a result, a custodial parent would have to travel to the noncustodial parent’s state of residence to initiate new court proceedings in that jurisdiction. To rectify this procedural difficulty, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws drafted the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (URESA) in 1950.

While URESA and a subsequent revision were adopted by every state, problems remained due to a lack of uniformity and issuing of duplicitous orders. To resolve these problems, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws returned to the issue and drafted the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) that we use today.

Also adopted by all 50 states, UIFSA provides for the enforcement of support orders under the laws of the issuing state and limits the number of support orders to a single source to eliminate confusion. As such, the court entering the original order retains jurisdiction until otherwise agreed upon by the parties, or until a change of circumstances occurs that requires a transfer of jurisdiction over the action.

UIFSA allows the custodial parent to contact the new state, or an out-of-state employer, to withhold child support according to the original court order. To tie up loose ends resulting from the Sistare v. Sistare decision, the Federal Government has since enacted the Federal Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act, once again applying the Full Faith and Credit Clause to child support orders between the states.

Contact an Illinois Family Law Attorney

While the legal infrastructure has been repaired since the destructive 1920 Supreme Court decision, the processes for collecting out of state support payments is anything but simple. Differing procedures and organizations between states affect the process of collection, and knowing where to look is usually just the start of the complicated task. It is important to retain competent legal representation in efforts to enforce out of state support orders.

The skilled Illinois attorneys at Martoccio & Martoccio are well versed in the complications arising out of the enforcement of support orders and are ready to help you. Retain the legal counsel you need by contacting the experienced professionals at Martoccio & Martoccio today.

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