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UIFSA governs interstate child support modification jurisdiction

Child support modification cases in Pennsylvania are often impacted by jurisdictional issues arising from the relocation of one or more of the parties. Because of one or more changes in residence, there is often uncertainty regarding the state in which a petition for modification should be filed. The choice of venue may be of critical importance because the rules governing revised support payments vary from state to state.

The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act was drafted to address jurisdictional issues in child support modification cases. It has been enacted in every state. The New Jersey version of the law, for example, says a state has exclusive, continuing jurisdiction over child support modification for so long as the state is the home of the child, the obligee or the obligor.

Where the parties reside in multiple states, application of the UIFSA may result in more than one state having exclusive jurisdiction. In such situations, jurisdiction goes to the state where the child resides. In one New Jersey case, all of the orders related to a particular child support case had been entered by New Jersey courts, with the exception of the divorce decree, which was entered in Nevada after the husband had moved there. The parties alternately argued that both Nevada and New Jersey should have exclusive jurisdiction under the UIFSA.

The child's home state was New Jersey, so the court ruled that New Jersey was the state which had the controlling jurisdiction. Individuals who have questions about the UIFSA may want to consult an attorney who has experience in divorce legal issues. Legal counsel may be able to draft and file a petition for a child support modification on behalf of a noncustodial parent who has suffered an adverse financial change since the original order was issued.

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