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The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act

Prior to adoption of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), there was a great deal of confusion and unfairness in the issuance and enforcement of child and spousal support orders. Sometimes, a noncustodial parent would end up paying support under orders from two or more states at the same time.
In 1996, Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, 42 U.S.C.S. § 666, which required all states to adopt the UIFSA by January 1, 1998, in order to continue receiving federal funding for child support enforcement. Needless to say, all states now have adopted the UIFSA.
The UIFSA comes into play when more than one state is involved in establishing, enforcing, or modifying child and spousal support orders. The UIFSA is used to determine which state’s law must be applied for such orders. Under the UIFSA, every state is required to defer child support orders to the child’s home state. Then, the state where the order was originally entered retains continuing exclusive jurisdiction over the support order. Only the law of the original state issuing the order can be applied to later modification requests unless none of the parties, including the child, reside in the state with original jurisdiction at the time the request for modification is made.
Under the UIFSA, a custodial parent may register the child support order in the non-custodial parent’s state in order to enforce a support order. The non-custodial parent’s employer is then required to comply with the income withholding requirements from the state with original jurisdiction.
The UIFSA likewise protects the non-custodial parent. The noncustodial parent can also register the original support order in the non-custodial parent’s state in order to prevent multiple support orders from different states. If more than one support order exists for any reason, the noncustodial parent can seek a determination from a court in the noncustodial parent’s state as to which support order applies.
The UIFSA mandates the use of standard, federal forms. This allows for consistency and fairness in application of child support orders. It also makes the evidence contained on all such forms admissible in all states.