Uniform Interstate Family Support Act Law and Legal Definition

The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) gives a state "long-arm" jurisdiction over a child support debtor even where the debtor is a nonresident. This is an exception to the normal rules of law where a court would not have jurisdiction over a nonresident. A state would have this jurisdiction, essentially, if one party or child resides in the state or if the parties agree to transfer continuing exclusive jurisdiction to another state.

The first state to impose a support order retains "continuing exclusive jurisdiction" as long as one of the parties continues to reside in that state or if both parties agree to transfer jurisdiction to another state. Until one of those events occurs, only the state which authorized the original support order can modify the award. In this way, all parties, courts and enforcement officials are assured that, between UIFSA states, there can only be one support order in effect at any given time.

In modification proceedings, it will be the law of the "continuing exclusive jurisdiction" state which will govern whether or not the nonresident has a duty of support. Note, however, that for enforcement purposes, it will be the law of the enforcing state that will govern enforcement proceedings.

Once issued, an support order may be sent to any other UIFSA state for registration. allowing that state's authorities to enforce the order. Registration does not give the enforcing state any authority to modify the order. The initiating state maintains continuing exclusive jurisdiction even though the debtor lives, or the order is being enforced, elsewhere.

Under UIFSA, a state can lose continuing exclusive jurisdiction if, for example and as discussed above, if none of the children or parents live in the state or if there is an agreement to transfer the file to another state. In those circumstances, it is possible to transfer continuing exclusive jurisdiction in order to modify the support award. The UIFSA allows enforcement of an order by sending an income withholding order directly to an employer in another UIFSA state.