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Crossing State Lines: URESA and Support Issues

Crossing State Lines

In the not-too-distant past, many non-custodial parents were able to avoid paying child support or other forms of help to custodial parents by simply leaving their state of residence. Because each state had its own laws, it was relatively easy to avoid prosecution for non-payment of support. A custodial parent, trying to force a non-custodial parent to pay support, would have to file with the court in that state, often necessitating expensive legal maneuvering that could take years to come to fruition. Most parents simply gave up without ever collecting child support due to them.

Thanks to URESA, the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act passed in 1950 and amended in 1958, those who moved to another state were not so easily able to avoid paying child support. Instead, the court system of one state could simply incorporate the court orders of another state, including child support orders, and enforce them.

How Does URESA Help Me If I Have Custody?

If you have even partial custody of your children, URESA can protect your interests if your former spouse decides to move out of state. For example, suppose your ex-spouse moves to another state and the children only see her a few times a year. She may be ordered to pay child support to you each month, but it would be difficult for you to enforce this California order on her if she lived in New Mexico, for example.

Thanks to URESA, however, you can now enforce your existing California support order much more easily. You simply send your California order to New Mexico and, under the terms of URESA, the New Mexico judge must incorporate that order and enforce it as if he or she had issued the order. This means that even if California and New Mexico differ on child support standards or other factors, you will still be able to enforce the terms of your original agreement. The court in New Mexico will then take over the collection procedures necessary to force your ex-wife to pay child support.

If you are struggling to get a former spouse to pay support or if you are facing a divorce situation, it is very important for you to protect your rights. The Men’s Legal Center in San Diego is dedicated to helping men protect themselves in custody and support battles as well as in all other areas of domestic law.