You think you live in Virginia and the other parent of your kids thinks she or he lives in South Carolina. You’re wrong: you both live in UIFSA. UIFSA has only one state and expects parents owing child support to pay it, regardless of either parent’s address.
UIFSA: The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act
UIFSA stands for the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act. This Act essentially eliminates state boundaries with regard to child support, custody, parental kidnapping, and interstate flight. Under UIFSA, a parent can (with a court’s approval) journey anywhere in our fine country with a child and be confident that child support will follow.
The Act assigns jurisdiction of a legal child support legal order to the originating state and requires the adopted state to fulfill that legal order without interference.
This sounds complicated.
Let’s break it down. You are the non-custodial parent living in Virginia. Your kids are with their Mom in South Carolina, a move that came after divorce and received approval from the Virginia court presiding over your divorce.
Your child support payment must now go to the children’s address in South Carolina. Virginia continues to hold sway over the entire arrangement. The South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS) will neither interfere in that order nor ignore it. SCDSS is bound by UIFSA to uphold everything in that Virginia court order.
It’s Simple, In Principle
Your ex-wife cannot bolt from Virginia with the children without your approval and the court’s permission. She’d be nuts to try; that is parental kidnapping and interstate flight, and that invites federal law enforcement to step in.
Let’s assume she and her attorney went through the right motions and proceedings to move to South Carolina. Her move does not relieve you from your financial obligations spelled out in the divorce decree or property settlement agreement.
Instead of sending a check to a Virginia address, you send it to a South Carolina address. No. Big. Deal.
Petty Parents Make It a Big Deal
Unfortunately too many divorced or separated parents pretend an interstate move is a big deal. They use it as an excuse to end parenting time, to stop child support payments, or to demand modifications to the existing order.
If both parents keep in mind that child support is intended to benefit their own children, perhaps they will not get into a turf war over a non-existent issue. If you are expected to pay, keep on paying, no matter where the check is mailed or if you have to send electronic payments through another state’s Child Services agency.
If you are the custodial parent receiving payments, your attorney can impress upon your ex-spouse in no uncertain terms that payments must continue, even if you and the kids have moved out of Virginia.
What If Child Support Hasn’t Been Filed?
In some instances, a parent may move pendente lite, while the divorce proceeding is pending. This move would have to be approved by the court overseeing divorce proceedings.
Most Virginia courts would only grant the move if it was necessitated by a job issue, military transfer, medical condition for a child, or with both parents’ approval. A move out of state cannot interfere with either parent’s ability to continue a strong relationship with the children.
If child support has not yet been established at the time of the move, either parent can file within their own state. The state with originating jurisdiction (the one in which the children lived at the beginning of the proceeding) will maintain jurisdiction. The other state will forward the case, via an initiating tribunal, to the originating state.
These Decisions Are Not Up to You
Fortunately, none of these decisions is up to you. The UIFSA prescribes the only correct way to handle interstate child support and custody matters, and attorneys for both sides (and any ad litem attorneys appointed for the children) will follow UIFSA.
You do not need to be an expert in interstate family law. Work with your seasoned family law professional to let your legal team and the two states’ court systems work out any conflicts.
If you are the custodial parent, leave the job of putting pressure on the nonpaying parent to your attorney. If you are the noncustodial parent, do not use an out-of-state address as an excuse to avoid paying child support.
The Firm For Men is experienced in complex family law issues, including child support, custody, and parenting time. Contact us online or telephone our office at (757) 383-9184. We focus on assisting Virginia’s men in all aspects of family law.