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Child support modifications when parents have relocated

It is common for Maryland residents to experience significant financial changes in their circumstances after a divorce and support order have been issued. When a person needs to seek a child support modification to reflect their income changes, a question regarding jurisdiction may arise if one of the parents has moved to a state other than the one in which the support order was issued.

The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, or UIFSA, is a federal law that has been adopted by every state. The act governs the jurisdictional question. According to the law, a state will have exclusive jurisdiction over a child support modification if it continues to be where the paying parent (obligor), receiving parent (obligee) or child lives. This makes it possible for several states to have exclusive jurisdiction.

To address the scenario of several different states having jurisdiction, the law further delineates jurisdiction by looking at where the order was issued as well as where the home state of the child is. When an order has been issued by a court in the same state as the child's residence, that state will continue to hold exclusive jurisdiction. If the child has relocated from the state in which the order was issued and lives in a new state, the most recently issued child support order controls.

When a parent has experienced a significant change in their finances, making it difficult for them to pay their child support amounts, it may be a good idea to file a petition for a child support modification. An attorney may review the home states of the parties as well as where the order was issued to determine which state has jurisdiction to hear the matter. They may then help their clients by filing the motion and advocating for them in court.

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