What laws govern interstate child support payments?

Attempting to recover child support payments can feel like a two-way battle. Not only is the parent of your child shirking their responsibility, you now have to work harder to make ends meet for you and your child.

Although child support is administered at the state level, federal regulations have made the process more uniform and easier to enforce across state lines. Let's take a look at the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act that manages jurisdiction in cases of interstate child support.

What is the law?

Signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1992, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act defines which state's jurisdiction will apply when a parent seeks child support services.

Generally, the parent who is the primary caregiver of the child at the time of application will have their state laws apply in an interstate case. This ruling is called 'continuing exclusive jurisdiction' and attempts to simplify the child support process for interstate parents by enforcing one set of rules between two states.

Distance can affect custody

What is also important to remember about interstate child support is that the distance of the parents can affect custody. If a parent receives fewer custodial opportunities or parenting time, they may not be obligated to pay as much.

Each case is different, and the compliance of the non-custodial parent can sometimes play a factor in determining payments.

Penalties for not paying child support

Since the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act outlines enforcement of child support payments, it subsequently outlines the enforcement of penalties for parents who refuse to pay it. Penalties can include: garnishment of wages, reporting non-payment to credit bureaus, suspension of driving or professional licensures and, in severe cases of contempt, jail time.

Inability to pay via job loss or medical issues is not necessarily cause for adverse action, but a good faith effort to meet obligations should be made regardless of circumstance.

How can the law work for me?

Speaking with a lawyer who will provide individualized attention to your needs can ensure the abstract language of the law works for you and the needs of your child.

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