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Enforcing child support across borders is possible

On Behalf of | Jul 31, 2015 | Child Support

Like elsewhere in the country, when a couple with minor children in Tennessee divorces, they can enter into an agreement about who receives child custody and who is responsible for paying child support.

In general, the noncustodial parent is required to make monthly payments to ensure a child has the child’s financial needs met and that the custodial parent is not forced to beat the entire costs of raising the couple’s child. If ordered, child support payments are enforceable by law, and defaulters face punishment that could include imprisonment if failure to pay is seen by a court as deliberate and avoidable. Collection, however, can become more of a headache if a supporting payer moves to a different state.

Fortunately, child-support enforcement agencies across the country can now follow the federal Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, which requires interstate enforcement of collections. Under the UIFSA, when more than one state is involved, then the child-support order issued in one state is enforceable in any other state and requires the second state to use its agencies collect the delinquent support.

A state can also withhold nonpaying individual’s pay, in whole or in part, to satisfy the person’s child-support obligations. Furthermore, UIFSA allows the withheld income to be sent directly to the custodial parent without the child-support agency in the state the parent lives in needing to be involved.

Every state, including Tennessee, has a central registry that receives child-support information and files from other states. These registries are supposed to be standardized with information on each child-support case, including its status.

Unfortunately, the system relies on states keeping their information current. When it works, though, this national system ensures that information is available to those who need to enforce support orders for payers within their own states and in far-away states.

Source:, “Child Support Handbook: Chapter 7 Working Across Borders,” Accessed on July 21, 2015


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