Berman & Asbel, LLP

Jurisdiction over child support modification a complex issue

When a couple with children is going through a divorce, the issue of child support often arises. When a child support order is entered in Pennsylvania, either as part of a divorce decree or separately, it is generally not subject to modification unless a change in circumstances occurs.

A common change in circumstances that may result in a child support modification is a change in financial situation, particularly that of the parent paying child support. If both parents and the child still live in the state in which the child support order was entered, the parent paying child support files a petition for modification in that state. However, if any of the parties have moved to a different state, the question of jurisdiction is more complex. Because different states have different laws regarding child support amounts, filing in the correct state is essential.

The provisions of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act have been adopted by all 50 states, and they clarify the question of which state has jurisdiction over a child support case when the parties have moved. The UIFSA provides that a state has continuing jurisdiction over a child support case as long as either parent or the child lives in the state. However, in cases where the parents and children have moved to different states, the law provides that the child's home state retains jurisdiction. If no order has been issued in the child's home state, the state in which the most recent order has been issued has jurisdiction.

Although the UIFSA is designed to clarify the question of jurisdiction over child support, the answer is not always obvious. A parent seeking an order modification may want to obtain the assistance of a family law attorney.

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