If you’re a parent who resides in Florida, but the parent who owes child support lives in another state, you may be wondering how to enforce the order. Fortunately, a federal law called the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, or UIFSA, was enacted to provide some clarity. UIFSA allows enforcement of child support orders that were issued by another state court. The law also sets forth jurisdictional rules for establishing and modifying child support orders across state lines.
UIFSA is a complicated law that can have significant implications for your ability to seek and obtain child support. But you can count on the experience of Orlando Family Team to ensure your rights are protected.
Overview Of UIFSA
Because our society is so mobile, it is easier than ever to move in and out of Florida and other states. For whatever reason – family matters, a career change, or simply to seek a fresh start – parents move across state lines. This can have an impact on family court cases, including child support. Some parents wait until the judge makes a decision regarding child support, and then leave. Other times, the parents split up, one of them leaves the state, and then one of them wants to initiate court action.
That’s when problems often arise:
- One parent who lives in Florida wants to initiate child support proceedings against the one who moved away
- The parent who left has suddenly stopped paying child support to the parent who remained in Florida
- Either parent wants to modify child support but doesn’t know which court to turn to
These and other hypothetical situations invoke serious and sometimes convoluted jurisdictional issues that UIFSA sought to address. UIFSA can be roughly broken down into three main parts that are relevant to most parents with child support orders: establishing an order, enforcing an order, and modifying an order.
Establishing A Child Support Order Under UIFSA
A parent who wishes to establish child support needs to obtain jurisdiction over the other parent. That is relatively straightforward if the parents both live in Florida. But if the paying parent lives outside of the state, UIFSA establishes more complex rules for obtaining that jurisdiction.
A Florida court may exercise jurisdiction over a nonresident parent if:
- The parent is personally served with citation, summons, or notice within Florida
- The parent submits to the jurisdiction of this state by consent, by entering a general appearance, or by filing a responsive document that waives any contest to jurisdiction
- The parent resided with the child in Florida
- The parent resided in Florida and provided prenatal expenses or support for the child
- The child resides in Florida as a result of the acts or direction of the parent
- The child may have been conceived by sexual intercourse in Florida
- The parent asserted parentage in a Florida court or agency
- Any other constitutionally permissible basis
Modifying A Child Support Order Under UIFSA
Once a Florida court issues a child support order, it retains what is known as continuing exclusive jurisdiction. That means no other state can modify the order. Florida will retain this jurisdiction as long as either parent or the child resides here. Another state can only assume continuing exclusive jurisdiction, and therefore modify the child support order, if all parties to the case file a written consent to do so. This rule ensures that no other state will issue competing or conflicting orders, since only one will have jurisdiction at any given time.
Enforcing A Child Support Order Under UIFSA
Florida courts and the Florida Department of Revenue are empowered under UIFSA to enforce out-of-state child support orders against paying parents who reside in the state. In other words, even if the order was not from Florida, it can be enforced as if it were. Enforcement actions include garnishing wages, suspending driver’s licenses, seizing tax refunds, and more. The order will need to be registered, which includes sending a copy of it to the Department of Revenue. If you know the paying parent’s whereabouts, you can also let the Department know.
There are counterpart agencies and courts in other states that can help enforce Florida child support orders. So if the paying parent moves to another state, agencies and courts there can help enforce the order against that party.
Enforcing a court order in this way does not give the enforcing state the power to modify a child support order, unless it also has continuing exclusive jurisdiction. For example, if Florida enforces a child support order from Georgia, and that state still has continuing exclusive jurisdiction, the parties would need to return to Georgia to modify the court order.
Similarly, the original state’s child support laws still apply even if the order is enforced in another state. For example, Florida child support usually terminates either when the child turns 18 or graduates from high school. In some states, child support can last until age 21. Even if you move to another state and enforce the order there, it will not extend child support to age 21.
How Orlando Family Team Can Help
The above scenarios are relatively common, but many parents find themselves in situations that are significantly more complex. It’s important for you to have an attorney who knows the ins and outs of UIFSA. Orlando Family Team is well-versed in interstate child support matters.
Enforcing child support orders across state lines also involves communicating with courts in other states. There are often cases, for instance, in which courts from two different states are unsure which one has jurisdiction. Attorneys don’t always agree because the law is not always clear. You need an attorney who can argue for you when disagreements arise over UIFSA’s provisions.
Contact A Florida Interstate/UIFSA Child Support Attorney Today
Child support is complicated, and it becomes even more so when interstate matters are involved. You can count on Orlando Family Team to understand the issues and fight for you, regardless of whether you are the paying or receiving parent. Give us a call today and find out how we can help.