Parents do not always stay in Texas after divorce or separation. Collecting child support from a parent living in another state, however, presents challenges. A federal law, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, responds to this problem and requires all states to adopt this law and assist with child support enforcement.

Before the UIFSA took effect in 1996, different states could enter their own support orders. This often led to delays and confusion with enforcement and which state had to collect support. It was sometimes difficult to determine the amount that was owed and who was entitled to this support. Now, under the UIFSA, there is only one controlling support order for each case.

A child support order may be entered when a child support order does not exist and when both parents live in different states. A Texas order may be entered if the parents had sufficient contact with this state even if a parent lives elsewhere. Texas and another state may also cooperate to establish support order in that other state.

The UIFSA also provides for registration of these orders in different states to allow enforcement and child support modification as if those orders were originally issued in those states. The law contains procedures for registering these orders in other states, filing objections and for hearings on these objections.

Significantly, Texas may enforce these orders without the help of the state where the obligor resides. A withholding order requiring support deductions may be sent directly to the noncustodial parent’s employer in another state. If the other state registered the order for enforcement, it can seek collection through the hearing process, license suspension and incarceration.

UIFSA also has provisions addressing child support modification where changed circumstances affect the noncustodial parent’s income and ability to pay support. Procedures are governed by the state that issued the order or the states where the parents and children reside. When a state modifies the amount of support that was ordered by the other state, however, it cannot change the length of time governing the support obligation.

A lawyer can assist a parent obtain child support that helps pay for everday expenses and other needs. An attorney can also assist a parent seek enforcement under UIFSA and Texas law.