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Know Your Rights Regarding Out of State Child Support Orders

On Behalf of | Jul 31, 2006 | Family law

The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) was enacted in 1992 and amended in 1996 in an effort to ensure a child support obligation could not be evaded by simply moving across state lines. By 1998 every state including the District of Columbia had adopted UIFSA as the uniform method to establish, modify and enforce a child support order when the non-custodial parent resides out of State. The primary goal of UIFSA is to establish one controlling order which will follow the non-custodial parent wherever he or she may reside. Prior to UIFSA, if Kentucky issued a child support order and the obligor moved to Ohio, it was common for both states to issue separate support orders. As a result, two or more support orders would be issued causing enormous confusion for both the custodial and non-custodial parent. Often enforcement of both orders would fall through administrative cracks or both states would attempt to enforce and grossly overcharge the non-custodial parent. Many of these old duel orders still exist; therefore every large out of state arrearage should be scrutinized. UIFSA has come a long way to create a uniform method to enforce multi-state support orders, however it is important both the custodial and non-custodial parent to know their rights. UIFSA permits a party to bring a pure parentage action independent from any request for child support. Non-parentage may be raised as a defense when the issue has not been previously determined. Visitation issues cannot be raised in a UIFSA proceeding and are not a defense to nonpayment of support. UISFA also includes many notice requirements and are accompanied by strict time frames. The registering party must provide certified copies of the order and any arrearage calculation. For example, if a Kentucky court issues a support order and requests Ohio to enforce it against the non-custodial parent, the local Ohio Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) must notify the non-custodial parent by personal service or certified mail of the pending action. Once the non-custodial parent has received notice, he or she has 20 days to contest the validity of the order and any arrearage amount which the out of state order is attempting to collect. If the party fails to timely contest the registration, Ohio will adopt the order as their own, including the arrearage and exercise full enforcement powers under the law against the non-custodial parent. If a timely contest is filed, the registering court must schedule a hearing and give notice of the hearing to the parties. The out of state resident is entitled to appear at the hearing telephonically. The contesting party may attack the registering order on: jurisdictional grounds, fraud, showing the order was vacated or suspended, or the applicable statute of limitations. If the non-custodial parent fails to establish a defense, the court must issue an order confirming the registration. It is vitally important for either party to contest the validity of the registration in a timely fashion if they believe the arrearage figure or order to be inaccurate. UIFSA offers child support services to any custodial parent upon request. It also expressly authorizes private attorney involvement, including the award of attorney fees, if otherwise permitted by state law. Once registered, an out of state order may also be modified by either party upon request. Local laws will apply to the modification of an out of state order and the non-custodial parent is entitled to a full evidentiary hearing. For more information regarding UIFSA or any other child support issues, please contact B. Bradley Berry, Esq. Mr. Berry was a Sr. Child Support Enforcement Attorney with the County Job & Family Services and the Champaign County Child Support Enforcement Agency before joining Mark E. Godbey and Associates in February 2006.