Last Updated on March 19, 2023 by Benson Varghese
Introduction to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)
The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) is a significant piece of legislation that aims to streamline the enforcement and establishment of child support orders across state lines. The act was first drafted in 1992 by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) and has since been adopted by all 50 states, including Texas. The main objective of UIFSA is to eliminate any jurisdictional confusion, ensure consistency in child support orders, and prevent multiple orders from being issued for the same case.
How UIFSA Works in Texas
A crucial aspect of the UIFSA is its clear guidelines on how to establish jurisdiction in interstate child support cases. In Texas, the court may exercise jurisdiction over a non-resident party if one of the following criteria is met:
- The non-resident party is personally served with process within Texas.
- The non-resident party submits to the jurisdiction of Texas by consent, entering a general appearance, or filing a responsive document with the Texas court.
- The non-resident party resided with the child in Texas.
- The non-resident party resided in Texas and provided prenatal expenses or support for the child.
- The child resides in Texas due to the acts or directives of the non-resident party.
- The non-resident party engaged in sexual intercourse in Texas, which may have resulted in the conception of the child.
- The non-resident party asserted parentage in the Texas paternity registry.
One Order, One Court
The UIFSA emphasizes the “one order, one court” rule, which means that only one valid child support order can be enforced and modified at any given time. This provision ensures that both parents have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and prevents conflicting orders from being issued in different states.
Enforcement and Modification of Child Support Orders
Under the UIFSA, Texas courts can enforce child support orders issued by other states. If a non-custodial parent resides in another state, the custodial parent may seek enforcement of the existing order through the Texas Attorney General’s Child Support Division. The Texas court can use various enforcement tools, such as wage garnishment, interception of tax refunds, and suspension of licenses.
When it comes to modifying a child support order, the UIFSA allows the court with continuing exclusive jurisdiction (CEJ) to modify the order. However, both parents can agree in writing to transfer jurisdiction to another state if they no longer reside in the state with CEJ.
How Varghese Summersett Can Help with UIFSA Cases
The UIFSA is a complex piece of legislation, and navigating interstate child support cases can be challenging. At Varghese Summersett, our experienced family law attorneys can help you understand your rights and obligations under the UIFSA. We can assist you in enforcing or modifying child support orders in Texas and guide you through the process with compassion and expertise.
If you are facing an interstate child support issue, don’t wait to seek legal assistance. Call Varghese Summersett today at (817) 900-3220 or contact us online.
How does the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act work if there is no child support order?
A child support order can be established even if the parents don’t live in the same state and an order does not exist. If the parents have had a sufficient residence in Texas, Texas officials might be able to enter a Texas order even if one of the parents no longer resides there.
The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act enables Texas and another state to cooperate to establish a child support order in the other state if special assistance is necessary.
What is the Controlling Order in Child Support obligations?
UIFSA allows one active support order per case. In the rare remaining cases with several orders, UIFSA rules determine which order is followed for ongoing child support obligations. The order determining the ongoing child support is called the “controlling order.”
Before the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act in 1996, states could enter different support orders. This caused delays and confusion when trying to enforce the support obligation. It was often unclear how much support was owed, to whom the support was owed, or which state needed to collect it.
Registering Child Support Orders
Child support orders can be registered in different states to enforce and modify obligations.
Orders registered from another state are enforced like orders issued by the registering state.
The initiating state agency registers an order by sending the order and any related documents to the responding state agency.
The responding state then registers the order and sends a notice to the parent who did not request the order be registered there. This parent has 20 days to object to the order’s registration.
A hearing is scheduled if there is an objection to the registration before the 20-day deadline.
Notice will be sent to both parties on the hearing’s date, time, and location.
A judge will determine whether the registration will be allowed based on the facts presented during the hearing.
If the amount of child support arrears is disputed, that will also be determined at this hearing.
How is UIFSA enforced?
UIFSA gives states more power to collect child support payments from a parent or obligor who lives in a different state.
It allows states to enforce orders without the assistance of the state in which the obligor lives.
In many instances, an out-of-state withholding order can be sent directly to the noncustodial parent’s employer, requiring the obligation to be deducted directly from their wages.
In some cases, it’s wiser to work with the other state’s officials to ensure child support compliance. If an order is registered by the responding state agency for enforcement only, the order can’t be modified by the responding state.
The responding state does have the authority, if necessary, to enforce child support by calling hearings, suspending a driver’s license, or jail time for a delinquent noncustodial parent.
In the event there are multiple orders, the registering state determines the amount of combined arrears accrued. This is true even if the child support order has expired.
Modifying Child Support obligations with UIFSA
UIFSA governs any modifications in child support obligations in the case of a major change in employment, promotion, or disability.
These changes might affect the noncustodial parent’s ability to adhere to an established support order. In valid cases, such changes may justify modifying the support order.
The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act bases its rules for modification depending on the state issuing the order, the states of residence of the parents and child, and the controlling order.
As long as one party remains in the registering state of the controlling order, that state maintains jurisdiction over modification.
If the parties involved no longer reside in the state that issued the controlling order, the state might not be able to modify the child support order.
Support orders must be registered for modification in the state in which the parent not seeking modification resides.
A new order can be established if more than one state has issued orders still providing for ongoing child support and neither party lives in those states. This is necessary because, under those circumstances, none of the active orders are controlling orders.
The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act allows the parties to agree in writing that a state in which one parent resides can modify an order and take control of the case. It also allows another state to agree that the state issuing the order may still modify its order even if neither party currently lives there.
When a state properly modifies another state’s order, the new child support obligation is set according to the guidelines of the state that made the modifications.
The modifying state can’t change the duration of the ongoing child support even if and when it modifies the amount of child support.
Need help with child support payments? Call Varghese Summersett.
Are you dealing with unpaid child support obligations? Do you need to catch up on payments and need your obligation modified?
Contact an experienced team of Family attorneys to help protect your rights and family.
The Varghese Summersett Family Law Group has more than 40 years of combined experience fighting child support cases involving the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.
To discuss your case and learn how we can help you, call us at 817-900-3220.