1. My husband moved to Florida after we got divorced. How can I now collect my child support?
In the world of family law many non-custodial parents who just can’t keep up with high child support payments move out of “Jersey.” Many distressed parents can’t deal with the ever pending threat of being arrested for their child support arrears. If your husband moves out of New Jersey then you child support payments can be collected through the UIFSA provisions. More specifically, the federal Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) provides that New Jersey child support can be carried out if the non-custodial parent of your child lives out of state.
This law requires employers to comply with other states’ income withholding orders and puts limits on where orders can be changed. This law also protects the non-custodial parent by making sure that only one current order for support is in effect at any time. Finally, it establishes rules for creating only one order when there are multiple orders.
It is important to emphasize that if a non-custodial parent moves to a different state in order to avoid paying child support, then he or she may face federal criminal prosecution.
The UIFSA laws work, but they work extremely slow. There could be a several month lag time before your child support checks start rolling in.
2. What is the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)?
The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), was establishes to create a uniform method to enforce the collection of any child support order when one or both parties have moved from the State of initial jurisdiction. The UIFSA also establishes rules for modifying support orders.
If you have moved to New Jersey from another State and if you have a support order or Judgment of Divorce which encompasses child support and/or alimony, then you should immediately register that out of state order in New Jersey family courts. Moreover, you can also register the out of state child support order by sending the the order and the intake forms to your local county Probation Department.
New Jersey’s statute, which codifies UIFSA, requires that certain documents and information be obtained before registration of the foreign court order can be proper. Upon receipt of those documents, the order will be filed as a foreign judgment. When that order is registered, the registering tribunal notifies the non-registering party. Notice is to be accompanied by a copy of the registered order, as well as the documents and relevant information that accompanied that order. The non-registering party then has 20 days after the date of mailing or personal service of the notice to request a hearing to contest the validity or enforcement of that registered order. If the non-registering party fails to contest the validity or enforcement of the registered order in a timely manner, the order is confirmed by operation of law.
3. What steps do I take to enforce my out of state child support order once I register it in the Garden State?
Once the out of state child support order is registered, if the other party is not complying with his or her obligations of support, then the registering party can then file a complaint or a motion that requests enforcement relief. However, before the New Jersey family courts can assert jurisdiction over the out of state dead beat parent, then either the child must reside in New Jersey or the dead beat parent must be a resident of New Jersey. If the dead beat parent is a non-resident, then that individual (1) must be personally served with the pleadings in New Jersey, (2) must submit to New Jersey jurisdiction by consent, or (3) must have resided with the child in New Jersey.
4. After I have registered the out of state child support order, can I request that the court modify if or increase my level of child support?
Even if a New Jersey Court obtains the legal authority to enforce an out-of-state child support order, it may not necessarily have the authority to modify that order. Basically, you can’t register an out of state child support order and then try to have the order modified up to New Jersey standards. Many other state’s laws are extremely stingy when it comes to determining support. New Jersey for the most part won’t let someone register an out of state order, and then modify the order upt to New Jersey support standards.
This legal question was explored in the recent case of Marshak v. Weser, 390 N.J. Super. 387 (App. Div. 2007). The specific legal issue was whether a New Jersey court may compel a parent to pay for the college expenses of a child even though the state in which the support order was originally entered does not provide for such a responsibility? The Appellate Division held that would not. Here, the trial court erred by entering an order that obligated the defendant father to pay for his son’s college expenses because under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) the state in which child support originated (Pennsylvania) did not provide for such relief. In reaching that conclusion, the court relied on N.J.S.A. 2A:4-30.114(c), which prevents a New Jersey court from modifying any aspect of a child support order that may not be modified under the the law of the issuing state, and N.J.S.A. 2A:4-30.107(a), which requires a New Jersey court to defer to the child support order of a foreign jurisdiction and observed that œ[t]he law of the issuing state governs the nature, extent, amount, and duration of child support. Further support for the court’s decision was found in the 2001 amendments to the Model Act and the comments thereto, which clarify that modifications to impose college tuition payments are not permissible where the law of the issuing state would not provide such support. Because Pennsylvania law does not require a parent to pay college expenses, the legislative intent and language of New Jersey’s UIFSA statute compel the conclusion that our courts cannot modify the Pennsylvania child support order to provide a longer duration than Pennsylvania law would allow.
The Marshak is case is very important. New Jersey has some of the most liberal if not the most liberal support laws in the United States. New Jersey college contribution laws are extremely liberal. I have had one case wherein I received a court order to compel the father to pay for graduate school to enable the father’s son to attend a seminary school to become a priest. In this Marshak case, the father lived in Pennsylvania and this state does not have a law that requires a non-custodial parent to contribute toward college expenses. Therefore, the non-custodial mother registered the Pennsylvania support order in New Jersey. Therefore, the mother tried to use New Jersey college contribution laws to compel the father to pay for college. The Appellate Division would not go for this type of legal maneuvering. It is important to emphasize that if an out of state support order is registered in New Jersey, then our courts are bound to apply the law of the state wherein the order originally issued. Thus, the Marshak court held that it was legally bound to apply Pennsylvania family law in this case, and it could not apply New Jersey’s liberal college contributions laws.
5. What type of legal protections does the UIFSA provide to me?
The Federal Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UFISA) ensure that New Jersey child support orders are carried out when the non-custodial parent lives out of state.
The UIFSA requires employers to coordinate with other states’ income withholding orders and limits where orders can be changed.
This Act also protects the non-custodial parent by assuring only one current order for support is in effect at any time and establishes rules for what to do when there is more than one order for a particular child. This Act also:
a. Keeps the custodial family informed about the case using strict rules. Within two days after receiving a written notice from another state or the non-custodial parent, the New Jersey Child Support Program must send a copy to the custodial parent; the New Jersey Child Support Program must notify the custodial parent if jurisdiction over the non-custodial parent cannot be obtained; and if a New Jersey agency issues an order under UIFSA, it must send a copy of the order to the custodial parent, the non-custodial parent, and the other state’s agency, if any.
b. Allows for documentary, telephonic and facsimile testimony.
c. Uses federally-mandated forms, so the evidence they contain is admissible in all states.
d. Requires employers to honor income withholding orders issued in another state.
e. Allows the custodial parent to register an order in the non-custodial parent’s state just to enforce the order.
f. Allows for a change in the support order under limited circumstances.
g. Allows for the laws of the issuing state to govern all aspects of current support and payment of past-due child support of a standing order.
In this ever transient society, it is possible that a person seeking enforcement of a support order in New Jersey, whether child support or alimony, may have obtained that order in another state.