In a world where so many of us are relocating and so few stay put, issues regarding child support can get complicated. What happens when a parent and the child move out of the state that issued the child support order? How is it enforceable? Can it be modified as incomes and jobs change? What if neither parent nor the child still lives in the original state that issued the child support order? How does a parent enforce a child support order from one state against a parent who has moved out of the state? These questions often have complex answers that are grounded in laws regarding “jurisdiction” as well as each state’s laws.
When a parent and the child move from the original state that issued the support order—as long as the other parent remains in that state--the original state retains the jurisdiction over that support order. That means that if Colorado issued the original support order and at least one parent remains residing in Colorado, Colorado keeps the power to enforce, amend or modify the order. Any changes that need to be made to the support order, would go before the same judges and the same Colorado courts that issued the original order.
If both parents and the child have moved out of the state that issued the original child support order, then that original state loses jurisdiction. So, which state gains jurisdiction—especially if the parents now reside in different states? Jurisdiction tends to follow the child in such a situation. However, if the parent paying the child support does not have sufficient connections to the state in which the child now lives, the child’s new state cannot enforce the support order against the parent who is supposed to pay child support.
The paying parent could agree to subject themselves to the jurisdiction of the child’s new state. The paying parent would agree to this by either filing a child support action in that state or by answering a child support action and agreeing to jurisdiction. A paying parent may want to do this if that parent wants to modify the amount of support they are paying. Often, though, a more unfortunate situation exists such as—the paying parent has stopped paying, and now the child’s new state cannot get them to pay because there is no jurisdiction over the non-paying parent.
If there is no jurisdiction over the paying parent in the child’s new state, a case has to be brought in the paying parent’s new state because that is the state that has jurisdiction over the paying parent. That is the state that can force that parent to pay child support. Registering the child support order in the paying parent’s new state would have to be done first. Then, enforcement or modification could occur in the paying parent’s new state. Some parts of the original support order would remain, but others could be modified, added or eliminated by the new state’s own rules.
At The Law Office of Jeanne M. Wilson & Associates, PC, we are often confronted with interstate child support issues. Military families, especially, rarely stay put and they can be left with a difficult situation as they try to manage to change child support amounts. We are here to help you figure out how this complex web of child support and jurisdiction laws intertwines. Sometimes it makes sense to use a private attorney for a child support case. Sometimes it makes more sense to use the resources of the El Paso County Child Support Services unit. Either way, we are here to help you determine your pathway forward.