What is the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)?
The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) is a law adopted by many states, Texas included.
It allows for enforcement of child support orders issued by one state in another state.
This means that if the children, an obligor (person who has a child support obligation), or an obligee (person who receives child support) are living in Texas, then Texas can enforce your out of state child support order.
You can find Texas’ UIFSA in the Texas Family Code, Chapter 159.
Note: Jurisdiction for child support issues are governed by UIFSA, while the UCCJEA addresses jurisdictional issues for custody and visitation only.
How does the UIFSA work?
Even if both parents do not live in the same state and a child support order does not exist, one can be established. If the parents have had sufficient contact with Texas, you may be able to enter a Texas child support order even if one of the parents does not currently reside in Texas. If another state’s assistance is needed, UIFSA enables Texas and the other state to cooperate to establish a child support order in that state.
UIFSA permits only one active support order for a case at a time. In the few remaining cases where there are several orders, UIFSA has rules to determine which order should be followed for ongoing child support. The order that determines the ongoing support is called the “controlling order.”
UIFSA also sets the ground rules for modifying a support obligation based on the state issuing the order, the states of residence of the parents and children, and the controlling order. So long as one party remains in the state that issued the controlling order, that state retains the jurisdiction to modify it.
The Office of the Attorney General in Texas can help you with collecting child support across state lines. You can read more about their process here.
How do I register my out-of-state child support order in Texas?
You first need to get a certified copy of your out of state child support order or your out of state income withholding order. The income withholding order is the order that tells the obligor’s (person paying child support) employer to withhold support from their paycheck. A certified copy of your order will have an endorsement, certificate, seal, or stamp on it to prove it is a true and correct copy of the original order.
Once you received the certified copy of your out of state child support order or income withholding order, you must determine where to register it. Registration is appropriate in the district clerk of the Texas county where the child has lived for the prior 6 months.
Once you know the right Texas county to register your out of state support order or income withholding order, you must prepare and file a letter or other document requesting the registration and enforcement of the orders. Along with the letter, you will include two copies of your support order or income withholding order: one certified copy and one regular copy.
Your letter must include the name of the obligor (person paying child support), their address and social security number, if known, the name and address of their employer and any and all sources of their income, a description of and the location of any non-exempt property in Texas. If you have questions about what constitutes as non-exempt property, you should speak with a lawyer. Your letter should also include your name and address, if you are the person receiving support.
As the person requesting registration, you must also include a sworn statement by the custodian of records showing the amount of any support arrearages.
To read the law, see Texas Family Code 159.602.
This TexasLawHelp article gives an overview of interstate child custody issues.
This article discusses registering other states' custody and support orders in Texas so that Texas courts can change and enforce them.