Enforcing Child Support Interstate
The long arm of the law is now able to reach across state
boundaries to enforce support orders through garnishment of wages
or having the recalcitrant parent's drivers or professional
licenses revoked, thanks to the Uniform Interstate Family Support
Following the lead of 25 other states, the North Carolina
General Assembly enacted legislation adopting UIFSA as Chapter 52C
of the General Statutes, effective January 1, 1996. UIFSA replaces
The Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (URESA), enacted
in the 1950s. Though it represented the first comprehensive
attempt to deal with the problem of interstate support
enforcement, over the years it was found to be ineffective,
cumbersome and time-consuming. In 1989 alone, interstate child
support cases made up approximately 30 percent of all child
support cases in the United States, and an estimated 2.5 million
non-custodial parents, mostly fathers, were nonresidents of the
states in which their children lived. At the time, children were
almost twice as likely not to receive support from non-custodial
parents in interstate situations, as in cases where the
non-custodial parent and children live in the same state. In
addition, parents in interstate child support cases paid, on
average, only 60 percent of the child support that they have been
ordered to pay.
With UIFSA came sweeping changes in child support enforcement
laws, making it much easier for a spouse dependent upon child
support to enforce support orders by creating real-life
consequences for dead-beat dads and moms. In some respects, UIFSA
is quite similar to URESA. For example, UIFSA also retains much of
the terminology used by URESA, including the terms
"initiating" and "responding state." However,
the two acts differ in important ways:
- Under the old law it was extremely difficult and expensive for non-custodial parents to contest modification requests, many of which were brought in states located hundreds or even thousands of miles away from their homes. In the future, all such actions will be brought in the state where the custodial parent resides.
- UIFSA also makes it easier to garnish wages in another
state. The garnishment order can now be obtained in the
custodial parent’s home state and mailed directly to the
non-custodial parent's employer in another state.
- Additionally, parents who do not pay child support orders
will be subject to having driver's licenses or professional
licenses. Even passports can be revoked for failure to pay
child support orders. A list of child support delinquencies
will be sent to the various licensing boards and these boards
will, in turn, send out notices to recalcitrant parents
indicating that they may be subject to license suspension or
revocation unless they bring their payments up-to-date.
In North Carolina, courts can exercise personal jurisdiction
over non-residents pursuant to UIFSA if any of the following
1. The non-resident was personally served with process in
2. The non-resident submits to jurisdiction here by
consent, a general appearance, or filing a responsive pleading
waiving the issue of lack of personal jurisdiction.
3. The non-resident resided at one time in North
Carolina with the child.
4. The non-resident resided here at one time and
provided prenatal expenses or support for the child.
5. The child resides here as a result of acts or
directives of the non-resident defendant.
6. The non-resident engaged in an act of sexual
intercourse in North Carolina with the child's other parent, and
the child may have been conceived as a result of that act.
7. The non-resident has asserted paternity in the
paternity registry maintained in this state.
8. There is some other basis for the exercise of
personal jurisdiction consistent with constitutional principles.
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