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What Are Child Support Laws When Parents Live in Different States?

child support laws when parents live in different states

Child support can be crucial to a child’s development, and state lines shouldn’t stand in the way. The short answer to what happens to child support over state lines is nothing, but it’s not always that simple. Seemingly small child support matters can grow in complexity when multiple states and their agencies come into play.

If you need to navigate this kind of complex legal matter that can change greatly from your state to the next, it can be a good idea to seek out experienced legal help before proceeding.

How Does Collecting Child Support Change When One Parent Moves to Another State?

child support laws when parents live in different states

An existing child support order will stay in place when one parent moves unless there’s a modification to the support order. That means child support payments must continue regardless of where the parent lives. This is because the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) enables courts to make child support orders that stay in place over state lines.

RELATED: Can I Take My Ex to Court for Custody Issues in North Carolina if They Live in a Different State?

And to help support parents that collect child support, every state has a child support agency known as Child Support Services (CSS) or Child Support Enforcement (CSE). They specialize in a variety of basic support needs:

  • Locating non-custodial parents
  • Collecting due support
  • Enforcing support orders

The office and tools available can change depending on where the parents live and which state holds the original or overriding order. When child custody isn’t forthcoming, and it can rely on the home state to know how one can enforce child support orders, like:

  • Direct income withholding
  • Tax intercepts
  • License revocation

Let us help you.


Who Has Jurisdiction Over Your Case?

child support laws when parents live in different states

While support orders continue to exist outside state boundaries, the creation, modification, and enforcement can look different from state to state. Even if the child is from North Carolina or recently moved here doesn’t mean a North Carolina court will rule on the case. The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) clarifies when a state has jurisdiction over a child support case.

Defining States Is Crucial in Your Child Support Order

If you and the other parent both begin court actions in different states, the state with jurisdiction will generally overrule the decision of the other state. If you or the other parent moves states, then it’s important to know who will enforce support orders.

Pursuant to UIFSA, a state may initiate a child support order when the parents are in different states only if the state has jurisdiction over the person who is responsible for paying support. If the payor lives in the state, the state has jurisdiction. If the payor does not live in the state, there are only certain grounds when the state can exercise jurisdiction over the person. These grounds can be viewed here: https://www.ncleg.gov/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/PDF/BySection/Chapter_52C/GS_52C-2-201.pdf. Once a state obtains jurisdiction over the payor, that state continues to have “exclusive, continuing jurisdiction” to modify or enforce the order. The “exclusive, continuing jurisdiction” can be lost in certain instances when another state can then take over and modify or enforce the order.

Myers Law Firm Can Help With Child Support Orders Across Multiple States

Managing child support isn’t easy, and things can get even more difficult when crossing state lines. When you’re facing complications with tough family legal matters, hiring a family law attorney can be an important first step.

Myers Law Firm has over 60 years of combined experience helping clients in North Carolina navigate family law. To learn more about how we can help you manage your child support issues, call us at (888) 376-2889 or fill out  this brief online form to schedule your free online consultation.


Child Support. North Carolina Judicial Branch. Retrieved from https://www.nccourts.gov/help-topics/family-and-children/child-support

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-13.4 (2020)

Uniform Law Commission. (2008). Interstate Family Support Act. https://www.uniformlaws.org/committees/community-home?CommunityKey=71d40358-8ec0-49ed-a516-93fc025801fb

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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