How does child support work if the custodial parent lives in a different state or even country?

By Carolyn Grimes
December 30, 2016

Interstate child support is governed by the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) and that allows for enforcement of child support between states without the person getting support having to run around every state and track them down. All states in the U.S. are required to have something similar to what we call the Division of Child Support Enforcement to enforce these. You can go through them. Most of them are backed up a little, or you can get a garnishment and income deduction order out of your state court, and send it to an interstate employer, because employers are also bound to honor income deduction orders on an interstate basis as part of federal commerce clause that has people do things across state lines.

Across the country, out of the country, is a little bit difficult because they're not bound to them. If it's a U.S. employer and they're working out of the country, send it to U.S. employer headquarters, and they have to honor it. You may have to force them to, but they have to honor it. If it's a completely foreign employer who isn't going to honor yours, it's difficult. You should still open up action with your local child support agency because they will keep it on file and they will never let it go. They can also garnish tax refunds, if the non-paying parent has a tax refund, and that generally gets people's attention. But the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act is a garnishment vehicle, and you can also go into the other state courts directly yourself.

Carolyn Grimes is a family lawyer at the law firm of Wade Grimes Friedman Sutter & Leischner PLLC in Alexandria, Virginia. To learn more about Grimes and her firm, visit

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December 30, 2016
Categories:  FAQs

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