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Enforcing a Mississippi child support order in another state

In most Mississippi divorces involving minor children, the non-custodial parent is ordered to pay child support to the parent who has custody of the children. As long as the non-custodial parent remains current on his or her obligations, the arrangement works well. But what happens if the non-custodial parent decides to move out of Mississippi? Fortunately for custodial parents who find themselves in such situations, they can look for relief to a statute adopted by the Mississippi Legislature, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.

The UIFSA has been adopted by Mississippi and most of the other states to provide an efficient method of permitting custodial parents to enforce child support orders against non-custodial parents who have moved to another state. The statute applies to both support orders issued as the result of a divorce and support orders issued in paternity proceedings.

A custodial parent who wishes to take advantage of the Act must first locate the non-custodial spouse and determine whether the state of residence has adopted the UIFSA. In most cases, the answer is yes. Once these hurdles have been cleared, the custodial parent is can file the original order for support in any court in the state where the non-custodial parent now resides. The court must give notice of the filing to the non-custodial parent. The support issued by the Mississippi court now becomes a valid court order in the state where the non-custodial parent resides. This process obviates the need for the custodial parent to institute an independent legal proceeding in the state where the non-custodial parent lives.

At this point, the non-custodial parent can respond to the petition by claiming changed circumstance or proving some other reason for non-payment. The court in the state of residence will decide how to deal with such defenses. Otherwise, the custodial parent can pursue any collection procedures in the non-custodial parent's state of residence that could have been pursued in Mississippi. The process is designed to be simple and efficient, but the services of a family law attorney may be needed if the non-custodial parent decides to assert barriers to collection.

Source: FindLaw, "Child Support Enforcement under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act," accessed Nov. 20, 2017

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