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Interstate Child Support Issues: Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)

Child Support & Medical Support

This article discusses interstate child support issues.

Here, learn about the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). UIFSA is a law adopted by many states, including Texas, that allows for the enforcement of child support orders issued by one state in another state. 

What is the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)?

The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) is a law adopted by many states, Texas included. It allows for the enforcement of child support orders issued by one state in another state.

This means that if the children, an obligor (person who has a child support obligation) or an obligee (person who receives child support) live in Texas, then Texas can enforce your out-of-state child support order.

Texas’ UIFSA is in Texas Family Code, Chapter 159.

Note: Jurisdiction for child support issues is governed by UIFSA, while the UCCJEA only addresses jurisdictional issues for custody and visitation.

How does the UIFSA work?

Child support orders can be established even if both parents do not live in the same state and a child support order does not exist. If the parents have had sufficient contact with Texas, you may be able to enter a Texas child support order even if one of the parents does not currently reside in Texas. If another state’s assistance is needed, UIFSA enables Texas and the other state to cooperate to establish a child support order in that state. 

UIFSA permits only one active support order for a case at a time. In the few remaining instances where there are several orders, UIFSA has rules to determine which order should be followed for ongoing child support. The order that determines the ongoing support is called the “controlling order.”

UIFSA also sets the ground rules for modifying a support obligation based on the state issuing the order, the states of residence of the parents and children, and the controlling order. So long as one party remains in the state that issued the controlling order, that state retains the jurisdiction to modify it.

The Office of the Attorney General in Texas can help you collect child support across state lines. You can read more about their process at their Out of State Parents page.

How do I register my out-of-state child support order in Texas?

You first need to get a certified copy of your out-of-state child support order or your out-of-state income withholding order. The income withholding order is the order that tells the obligor’s (person paying child support) employer to withhold support from their paycheck. A certified copy of your order will have an endorsement, certificate, seal, or stamp to prove it is a true and correct copy of the original order. 

Once you receive the certified copy of your out-of-state child support order or income withholding order, you must determine where to register it. Registration is appropriate in the district clerk of the Texas county where the child has lived for the prior six months. 

Once you know the proper Texas county to register your out-of-state support or income withholding order, you must prepare and file a letter or other document requesting the registration and enforcement of the orders. Along with the letter, you will include two copies of your support or income withholding order: one certified copy and one regular copy. 

Your letter must include the name of the obligor (person paying child support), their address and social security number if known, the name and address of their employer and any sources of their income, a description of and the location of any non-exempt property in Texas. You should speak with a lawyer if you have questions about what constitutes non-exempt property. Your letter should also include your name and address if you are the person receiving support.

As the person requesting registration, you must also include a sworn statement by the custodian of records showing the amount of any support arrearages.

To read the law, see Texas Family Code 159.602

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