Enforcing Out-of-State Child Support Orders

Moving to a new place often produces a mixture of excitement and anxiety as one gets used to a new house, a new street, maybe a new job. When the move is to another state or country the stakes are even higher as the transition makes it much harder to return. As society becomes more mobile, and people become more likely to move far away from the place they were born, the potential for impacting children left behind after a divorce or separation is an ever-growing reality. Custodial parents may develop legitimate concerns about enforcing child support orders against the non-custodial parent now that he/she lives in a different jurisdiction. In fact, it is a common tactic of those trying to avoid paying child support to move to another state to make it more difficult to locate them.

States across the country recognize the importance of enforcing child support orders across borders, and most have adopted a uniform system to address the situation in hopes of minimizing disruptions to the receipt of payments. A math professor from Brooklyn who freely gave his sperm to women to help them have a child has firsthand knowledge about enforcing out-of-state child support orders. The parents of five of the children sired with his sperm, out of the 22 born over last 18 years, successfully sued to establish his obligation to pay child support. While the vast majority of men will never encounter such a complicated situation, understanding the enforcement of out-of-state child support orders is important for any divorced parent.

Uniform Interstate Family Support Act

This law permits Florida courts to establish and enforce child support orders against parents located in other states. In order for Florida courts to have jurisdiction (a court’s authority to enter and enforce orders against an individual) over a non-resident parent, one of the following must be true:

  • the parent was served with notice in Florida;
  • the parent consented to jurisdiction of Florida courts by responding to a petition filed with court;
  • the parent lived with the child in Florida;
  • the parent lived in Florida and paid prenatal expenses;
  • the child lives in Florida due to actions taken by the non-resident parent;
  • the alleged parent engaged in sexual intercourse in Florida and the child may be the result of that act; or
  • the father claimed paternity over the child using procedures handled by state agencies.

If it is not possible for Florida courts to directly establish jurisdiction, the custodial parent can still initiate proceedings here, and the court will forward any orders issued to the non-custodial parent’s resident state for enforcement. Additionally, the custodial parent can file a petition for child support in the non-custodial parent’s state where it is much easier to establish jurisdiction. It is important to note that this law allows courts to establish and enforcement child support against out-of-state residents, but modifications of these orders must be done by the court who originally issued the order establishing the obligation to pay support.

Registering a Child Support Order

If a custodial parent moves to a new state and wants to make sure the standing child support order continues to be enforced, it is necessary to register the order with county clerk of court before a Florida judge will be able to take action. When registering an out-of-state child support order, the following information must be given to the court clerk:

  • a letter from the parent requesting registration and enforcement;
  • two copies of the order to be registered;
  • a sworn statement about any arrearages that may be outstanding; and
  • the name and location of the parent obligated to pay support.

Once this procedure is completed, the child support order is enforced as if it was issued by a court in this state.

Consult with a Family Law Attorney

Procedures related to enforcing out-of-state child support orders are complex and are best handled by an attorney familiar with family law proceedings. The Tampa law firm of Bubley & Bubley, P.A. has many years of experience in this area of the law, and can assist you with securing the child support payments you need. Contact us to schedule a consultation.

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