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How to Enforce Out-of-State Orders in Texas: A Guide to UIFSA

If you find yourself dealing with child support, custody, or other family law issues in Texas but have an out-of-state child support or child custody order, you may come across a legal term called UIFSA. In this blog, we will delve into the particulars of UIFSA and its significance for individuals who need to enforce a child-related order in Texas.

What is UIFSA?

UIFSA stands for the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act. It is a law enacted in all 50 states, including Texas, to establish consistent guidelines and procedures for determining and enforcing child support obligations across state lines. UIFSA promotes cooperation among states and provides a framework to resolve issues related to child support, paternity, and spousal support in cases involving multiple jurisdictions.

The Purpose of UIFSA

The primary objective of UIFSA is to address the challenges that arise when parties involved in a family law case live in different states. It aims to ensure that child support orders are uniformly enforced and modifications are efficiently processed, regardless of where the parties or the children reside.

Key Features of UIFSA

  • Jurisdiction: UIFSA outlines rules for determining the appropriate state with jurisdiction to establish, enforce, or modify child support orders. Generally, the state where the child resides is considered the initiating state and has the authority to establish the initial child support order.
  • Interstate Enforcement: UIFSA provides mechanisms for the enforcement of child support orders across state lines. If the noncustodial parent fails to comply with the support order, the initiating state can work with the responding state to enforce the order and collect overdue payments.
  • Modification: UIFSA enables parties to seek modifications to child support orders when circumstances change. It establishes guidelines for determining which state has jurisdiction to modify an existing order.
  • Full Faith and Credit: UIFSA ensures that child support orders issued in one state are recognized and enforced in other states. This "full faith and credit" provision promotes consistency and prevents conflicting orders from different jurisdictions.

UIFSA in Texas

In Texas, UIFSA is embodied in the Texas Family Code. When filing a family law case in Texas involving parties residing in different states, UIFSA comes into play. It is also the authority on enforcing an out-of-state child support or custody order.

If you would like to enforce an out-of-state child support order in Texas, you must first make sure Texas will have personal jurisdiction over the out-of-state parent.

In Texas, the court may exercise personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state or non-resident party if one of the following criteria is met:

  • The non-resident party is personally served with process within Texas
  • The non-resident party submits to the jurisdiction of Texas by consent, entering a general appearance, or filing a responsive document with the Texas court
  • The non-resident party resided with the child in Texas
  • The non-resident party resided in Texas and provided prenatal expenses or support for the child
  • The child resides in Texas due to the acts or directives of the non-resident party
  • The non-resident party engaged in sexual intercourse in Texas, which may have resulted in the conception of the child
  • The non-resident party asserted parentage in the Texas paternity registry

If none of the above criteria are met, you will have to enforce the child support order in the issuing state.

If one or more of the above criteria are met, you must register the child support order in Texas, notify the other parent, and give the noncustodial parent 20 days to respond. The noncustodial parent may dispute the child support enforcement based on personal jurisdiction or some other relevant reason.

Enforcing out-of-state child-related orders can be extremely complicated but because of UIFSA, it is possible. If you are filing for enforcement of an order in Texas and dealing with interstate child support or custody issues, understanding UIFSA and the Texas Family Code’s adaptation of it is important.

For help in navigating UIFSA in Texas, finding an attorney familiar with the intricacies of these types of cases is imperative. Contact Hunt Law Firm, PLLC today to learn more.