Child support is difficult enough to obtain when parents and children reside in the same state; but what happens if one parent moves to a different state? What if both parents live in a different jurisdiction than the one where the support order was given? Can the new state of residence enforce the order?
UCCJEA and UIFSA—How the States Enforce Each Other’s Orders
The short answer is, yes, no matter where parents go, the court order is just as valid in each jurisdiction. The longer, more complicated answer is yes; but the parent attempting to enforce the order is going to need skilled legal help sorting out all the acronyms and overlapping statutes.
- The UCCJEA or Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act is the interstate law which gives the states authority to enforce child custody orders. Each state has a version of the UCCJEA in its state statutes; in Minnesota, it is Chapter 518D. The UCCJEA, like the custody order, affects the status of the child about whom it is written.
- The UIFSA, or Uniform Interstate Family Support Act gives states authority to enforce support orders. The UIFSA in Minnesota is encoded as Chapter 518C.101 of the state statutes. The UIFSA involves jurisdiction and enforcement of the non-custodial or paying parent.
Registration and Modification
If a parent has moved to a new location, and needs or thinks they will need to modify a support order, the first thing they need to do is register the order with the local jurisdiction. As long as the parents’ home state has not “reserved jurisdiction” to modify the order, this can be as simple as filing the correct paperwork.
If the former court has reserved jurisdiction, there may be a few more steps necessary to transfer the matter to the new court. This is where the services of an attorney become essential. Otherwise, the parents will have to travel back to the original court to modify their support order.
Modification of an order is still subject to the same requirements as if the parents were in the original court: It can only be done due to a substantial change in circumstances or an alteration in the visitation. If, for instance, the mother and child moved from Hawaii to Minnesota, while the father has moved to Georgia, and visitation was changed from alternate weeks to summers, then the support guidelines might have to be revised.
Other Requirements to Consider
As long as one parent still lives in the original state, then Minnesota may not register the support order. Both Minnesota laws and Federal regulations state that as long as one person from the original case resides in the home state, then that state retains jurisdiction. This is important to consider if the support-paying parent has moved to Hawaii, but the custodial parent has remained in Tennessee where the order was written, the payor parent cannot register the order in Hawaii with the intent to modify it.
Also, note that this requirement is only for support payments. The UCCJEA impacts the child, and the location of the child. Once the child has been the resident of a state for more than six months, the parent or parents have a “significant connection” with the forum state, and no other state has grounds for jurisdiction over the child, then Minnesota can exercise jurisdiction for purposes of determining custody and visitation.
For parents who have moved, and are likely to move again, such as military families or those whose businesses require frequent relocation, knowledgeable legal counsel is essential for child support and custody questions. Even in families who can discuss these matters reasonably, ensuring that all the legal paperwork is properly filed is essential, to protect the interests of the children involved and keep everything moving smoothly for the next transition. Contact Beckman Steen & Lungstrom, P.A. before you move and we can get things in place early.