After a divorce, many people look forward to a fresh start. For some, this may mean moving to a new city, state, or even across the country. When a parent who owes child support moves to a new state, their obligation to pay their former spouse travels with them. When an ex-spouse refuses to pay, parents have several options to enforce their right to receive child support.

Uniform Interstate Family Support Act

In 1992, Congress passed the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). This act gives parents the right to ask a court or a prosecutor to enforce a child support order in the state where their child’s parent lives.

Suppose a husband and wife get divorced in Washington State, and shortly thereafter, the husband moves to Florida and falls behind on his payments. The wife, still living in Washington, has several options to enforce her child support order.

First, she could ask the Washington court to penalize her ex-husband for failing to pay. Just like any child support order of any Washington court, the wife could seek to enforce through contempt, executing a judgment, garnishing wages, or other collection options.

As long as the child and one parent continue to live in the state, Washington courts do not lose the power to enforce their orders even if one parent moves out of state.  The wife could ask the state agency in Florida to simply enforce the Washington child support order.

Alternatively, the wife in his scenario could seek to register the order in the Florida courts. This gives power to Florida to control the amount of child support, duration, and other aspects of the order.

Enforcing Child Support Payments

Refusing to pay child support to a parent who lives out of state can have serious consequences. In 1999, the federal government passed the Deadbeat Parent Punishment Act, which makes it a felony to refuse to pay child support to an out-of-state parent.

In addition to any criminal punishments, courts and state agencies have wide-reaching power to force a parent into compliance. No matter which state the parent resides in, courts have the power to order multiple consequences, including:

  • Wage garnishment,
  • Property seizures,
  • Driver’s license revocation,
  • Suspension of business or professional licenses,
  • Seizure of tax returns, and
  • Possible jail time.

Child support orders can be enforced in another state even when the parent’s actual address is unknown. There are many state and federal services which can help parents locate their former partner, regardless of how many times he or she relocates.

The experienced Washington state divorce attorneys at Pacific Northwest Family Law know that dealing with your ex can be a difficult experience. Our attorneys help people just like you get the support money that they were promised, and will help you enforce your legal rights.

For help with your situation, contact us today by calling 509-572-3700.