Before , I wrote about the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, which is designed to address issues concerned with child custody that cross State lines in the United States (where enacted in State laws). However, another important aspect of family law is support payments for children when they are in a foreign jurisdiction. Every State has enacted (a version of) the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act ("UIFSA") into law, and its provisions are relatively uniform.
The basic announcement of policy concerning child support (whether with an already-granted Order from a Court, or when an Order needs to be issued against someone to require their support) is found in Georgia in Section 19-11-43 of the Official Code. That section defines the "duty of support":
"Duty of support" includes any duty of support imposed or imposable by law or by any court order, decree, or judgment, whether interlocutory or final, and whether incidental to a proceeding for divorce, judicial (legal) separation, separate maintenance, or otherwise; for purposes of this article, in determining the existence of a duty of support, the following criteria may be considered, without limitation: (1) A person in one state is declared to be liable for the support of the person's spouse, in conformity with the support laws of this state, and for the support of any child or children of his under 18 years of age and residing or found in the same state or in another state having substantially similar or reciprocal laws; and, if the person is possessed of sufficient means or is able to earn such means, he may be required to pay for this support a fair and reasonable sum according to his means, as may be determined by the court having jurisdiction of the respondent in a proceeding instituted under this article. Notwithstanding the fact that either spouse has obtained in any state or county a final decree of divorce or separation from the other spouse or a decree dissolving their marriage, the obligor under this Code section shall be deemed legally liable for the support under this article of any dependent child of the marriage, whether or not there has been an award of alimony or support for the child or children; (2) The parents in one state are declared to be severally liable for the support of a child 18 years of age or older, residing or found in the same state or in another state having substantially similar or reciprocal laws, whenever the child is unable to maintain himself and is likely to become a public charge; (3) A child or children born of parents who, at any time prior or subsequent to the birth of the child, have entered into a civil or religious marriage ceremony shall be deemed the legitimate child or children of both parents, regardless of the validity of the marriage; (4) A child or children born to parents who held or hold themselves out as husband and wife by virtue of a common-law marriage recognized as valid by the laws of the initiating state and of the responding state shall be deemed the legitimate child or children of both parents; (5) A common-law marriage recognized as valid by the laws of the initiating state and of the responding state shall be deemed to be a valid marriage for purposes of this article; (6) Whenever a person has been adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction as the parent of a child born out of wedlock, the person shall be legally liable for the support of the child in the same manner in which the person would owe the duty of support if the child were a legitimate child.
As this section describes, a person is liable for the support of their child, whether they live in the same State or not and whether there is a formal Order to that effect of not. This is reaffirmed by Code Section 19-11-46, which expressly makes that the guiding rule for citizens of Georgia, even if the child lives elsewhere:
Duties of support arising under the law of this state, when applicable under Code Section 19-11-49, bind the obligor, present in this state, regardless of the presence or residence of the obligee.
The actual procedure for enforcement of the obligation to pay support for one's child is found later in the Code, at Section 19-11-120:
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this article, this part applies to all proceedings under this article. (b) This article provides for the following proceedings: (1) Establishment of an order for spousal support or child support pursuant to Part 4 of this article; (2) Enforcement of a support order and income-withholding order of another state without registration pursuant to Part 5 of this article; (3) Registration of an order for spousal support or child support of another state for enforcement pursuant to Part 6 of this article; (4) Modification of an order for child support or spousal support issued by a tribunal of Georgia pursuant to Code Sections 19-11-112 through 19-11-115; (5) Registration of an order for child support of another state for modification pursuant to Part 6 of this article; (6) Determination of parentage pursuant to Part 7 of this article; and (7) Assertion of jurisdiction over nonresidents pursuant to Code Sections 19-11-110 and 19-11-111. (c) An individual petitioner or a support enforcement agency may commence a proceeding authorized under this article by filing a petition in an initiating tribunal for forwarding to a responding tribunal or by filing a petition or a comparable pleading directly in a tribunal of another state which has or can obtain personal jurisdiction over the respondent.
The major issue in such Interstate situations, as it is in the UCCJEA, is one of personal jurisdiction over the obligee. This issue is addressed in Code Section 19-11-110, which gives several possible avenues for jurisdiction to be found:
Section 19-11-110 Personal jurisdiction
In a proceeding to establish, enforce, or modify a support order or to determine parentage, a tribunal of this state may exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident individual or the individual's guardian or conservator if: (1) The individual is personally served with process within Georgia; (2) The individual submits to the jurisdiction of Georgia by consent, by entering a general appearance, or by filing a responsive document having the effect of waiving any contest to personal jurisdiction; (3) The individual resided with the child in Georgia; (4) The individual resided in Georgia and provided prenatal expenses or support for the child; (5) The child resides in Georgia as a result of the acts or directives of the individual; (6) The individual engaged in sexual intercourse in Georgia and the child may have been conceived by that act of intercourse; (7) The individual asserted parentage in the putative father registry maintained in this state by the Department of Human Services; or (8) There is any other basis consistent with the Constitutions of Georgia and the United States for the exercise of personal jurisdiction.
Divorce / Separation Lawyer