A Brief Guide to Child Support Across State Lines

Parents who have dealt with child custody and child support matters know they can be complex, and the potential emotion behind these processes only increases that complexity. Other factors can also lead to more daunting child support cases. If the parents don’t reside in the same state, for example, they may need to determine which court has jurisdiction and understand how the differences in laws in each state might impact outcomes.

What Is the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act?

The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act is a law enacted by the federal government in 1996 as part of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act. That act required that every state adopt the UIFSA or implement a version of it. States that didn’t do so by a certain deadline would face federal defunding for certain programs. All states have adopted some version of the UIFSA.

The UIFSA provides legal processes and support for interstate child support situations. This allows parents to be confident when establishing child support in one state, knowing that it will be enforced in other states if one or both of the parents ends up moving.

What Happens if One Parent Moves With the Children to Another State?

You might not think you—or the other parent—will move in the future, but you don’t know what life changes might happen. One parent may be offered a promotion that’s hard to pass up but involves moving to another state. A sick family member or a new marriage could lead to a move.

Major moves are often stressful. When you’re dealing with a child support or custody situation, they can be even more so. You may want to consult a family law attorney before you make a decision to move to another state so you understand how your move might impact the situation.

Can One Parent Make the Decision to Move the Kids to Another State?

First, it’s important to know that in most cases, one parent can’t simply move to another state and take the kids with them without the knowledge or permission of the other parent. If you have custody arrangements, you may need to agree to a move or the parent may need to seek court approval for the move.

If you’re not sure what type of custody rights you have or whether you can take your kids to a new state, check with a family law attorney.

Do Child Support Orders Stay in Place?

A move doesn’t negate child support orders. Unless you seek a modification, any existing child support orders are still in place and can be enforced. That’s true if you are the parent paying support and you move out of state. It’s also true if the other parent moves out of state with the kids after you agree to the move or they go through the appropriate court processes.

Can the Non-custodial Parent Make the Decision to Move Without the Kids?

If you don’t have physical custody of your kids, you can choose to move out of state without the other parent’s permission. However, you may want to consider how it impacts your relationship with your kids. Depending on where you move, it may be more difficult to adhere to visitation schedules, and the other parent may not be obligated to allow the children to go out of state to visit you.

What if Child Support Hasn’t Been Decided or You Want a Modification?

If the parents end up in different states before child support has been set up—for example, one parent moves to a new state during or before a divorce process—you will first have to figure out which state courts have jurisdiction. The UIFSA and other laws help determine this, so you can talk to a family law attorney to understand which courts have jurisdiction.

Typically, the state where the children live—or the state they lived in at the beginning of a divorce proceeding—has jurisdiction. If you file anything with a state that doesn’t have jurisdiction, it will be forwarded to the court in the state and county that does. However, in some cases, you may be able to request that the matter be moved to a different jurisdiction. For example, if the children have moved to a new jurisdiction and have resided there with one of the parents for six months or more, the courts might consider moving the case.

The same is true with a modification order. You may need to work with the original court, but if everyone has moved away from that jurisdiction, you could ask for the case to be moved.

This brings up another common challenge when dealing with child support cases across state lines: Someone may need to travel for the case or request hearings via video conference. This can add an extra layer of stress and expense to such proceedings.

An Experienced Indiana Family Law Attorney Can Help

Whether you’re seeking child support or paying it, these cases can have a major financial impact. Getting help from an experienced family law attorney can make a positive impact on your case.

Your lawyer can provide you with information about relevant laws and what to expect during your case. They can also help you navigate complex processes, such as those that might be involved if you are dealing with interstate child support issues.

To find out if we can help with your child support case, give the Deidra Haynes Law Office a call at 317-785-1832.