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Enforcing Child Support Orders across State Lines

Posted on in Family Law

child support payments, deadbeat parents, Illinois family law attorney, A single parent who relies on child support payments to make ends meet should not have to worry about those payments being made on time. Unfortunately, though, there are some “deadbeat” parents who not only fail to make timely payments, but who fail to make payments at all.

Illinois law provides procedures to enforce child support obligations. But what happens when the parent who is obliged to make payments lives out of state?

Illinois adheres to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, which provides rules for establishing, enforcing and modifying child support orders when there is more than one state involved. One of the principal concerns that the Act addresses is personal jurisdiction – the power of a court over particular parties. Generally an Illinois court does not have personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state resident, unless that resident has ties to the state.

The Act sets forth the circumstances in which an Illinois court will have personal jurisdiction over a nonresident in a proceeding to establish, enforce or modify a child support order. An Illinois court may exercise jurisdiction if:

  • The nonresident is personally served with notice (warned that he or she is being taken to court) while in Illinois;
  • The nonresident consents to jurisdiction in Illinois either by appearing in court or by filing a responsive document that waives any objections to personal jurisdiction;
  • The nonresident previously resided in Illinois with the child;
  • The nonresident previously resided in Illinois and provided prenatal expenses or child support;
  • The child resides in Illinois because of the nonresident’s acts or directives;
  • The child may have been conceived by a sexual encounter between the nonresident and the child’s other parent while the nonresident was in Illinois; or
  • Another basis for personal jurisdiction exists that is consistent with both the state and federal constitutional law.

Note: When a support order involves nonresident parties, there might be issues of competing jurisdiction. For example, another court might also try to exercise personal jurisdiction over the nonresident in a proceeding to establish, enforce or modify a support order. The circumstances in which Illinois may continue to exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident depend on the type of proceeding.

Here are a few other points to keep in mind about interstate child support establishment, enforcement and modification proceedings:

  1. The Act authorizes (and encourages) communication between states when there are questions about the legal effect of another tribunal’s judgment, decree or ongoing proceeding.
  2. When Illinois lawfully exercises personal jurisdiction over a nonresident in a child support proceeding, Illinois may request assistance from another state in obtaining discovery (i.e., in investigating the facts of the case).
  3. If a petition is filed in Illinois and it is determined that Illinois should not exercise personal jurisdiction, the Illinois tribunal shall forward the petition to the appropriate tribunal.
Questions of personal jurisdiction can be complicated, which is why you need an experienced St. Charles family law attorney who has experience establishing, enforcing and modifying child support orders across state lines. Contact us today for a consultation.
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