All states are required to pursue child support enforcement actions for children who live in another state as vigorously as for children who live within their state. State enforcement agencies are required to cooperate with each other in handling requests for assistance within federally mandated time frames.
The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act
The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) is the primary legal tool for interstate enforcement. UIFSA allows states to reach across state lines for the establishment and enforcement of child support orders. The United States also has reciprocal agreements with some other countries, including Canada, Germany, England, and Australia.
All states have a central registry to receive incoming UIFSA petitions. Once they review the petition and open a case, the UIFSA petition is forwarded to the local IV-D office responsible for pursuing establishment or enforcement of a child support order.
UIFSA Petitions & Enforcement
Interstate cases are most often the most difficult and frustrating cases to pursue, both for the custodial parent and the caseworker. When a UIFSA petition is filed to another state, the case is subject to that state's laws and procedures. We are dependent on that jurisdiction for enforcement. We can only request enforcement actions be taken; we cannot tell them what actions to take.
It can sometimes take a year or more from the time a UIFSA petition is filed before any positive results are obtained. Many times the absent parent moves before the other state takes enforcement action and we must relocate the absent parent before they will proceed. There are a myriad of reasons why some interstate cases are difficult to enforce, however there are also just as many successful outcomes. It just depends on how the responding state handles the case.
If we find that we are unable to enforce your support order through administrative remedies and/or we do not have personal jurisdiction over the absent parent, sending a UIFSA petition to another state may be our only option.
Remember, just because the absent parent resides in another state or country does not mean your case is a UIFSA case. A petition must be filed to the other jurisdiction and a case opened there.