The federal Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act (FFCCSOA), which became effective October 1994, requires that a state enforce, according to its terms, a child support order of another state made consistently with the act's jurisdictional due process standards. The Act allows the enforcing court to use all of its power to collect the child support that is due.
FFCCSOA is a federal statute that establishes the standards by which the states can determine their jurisdiction to issue their own support orders and the effect to be given to support orders from other states. As a jurisdictional statute, it is authorized by the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution, which empowers Congress to enact general laws and to prescribe the manner in which state acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved as well as their effect. As a federal statute, the FFCCSOA preempts all similar state laws pursuant to the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution.
Each state has been required to set up wage-attachment systems and guidelines as to the amount of child support. The manifold mission of the FFCCSOA includes facilitating the enforcement of child support orders among the states, discouraging interstate controversies over child support, and avoiding jurisdictional competition among state courts in making child support orders. The clear and present policy embracing the act is the creation of a national standard. This standard first will require the courts of the states to determine if they have jurisdiction to make a child support order.
Under the U.S. Constitution's Supremacy Clause, insofar as interstate recognition, enforcement and modification of child support orders are concerned, the FFCCSOA controls and overrides inconsistent state law. The general rule under the FFCCSOA is that the authorities of each state must enforce the terms of a child support order made by a court of another state if the court that makes the order, pursuant to the laws of the state in which the court is located (1) has subject matter jurisdiction to hear the matter and enter such an order, (2) has personal jurisdiction over the contestants, and (3) reasonable notice and opportunity to be heard is given to the contestants. Otherwise, the child support order is not entitled to enforcement or full faith and credit. Where a child support order is consistent with the above factors then the court has continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over the order if the state is the child's state or the residence of any contestant unless the court of another state has properly modified the order. Thus, no other state may exercise jurisdiction to modify such order. On the other hand, a court of a state that no longer has continuing, exclusive jurisdiction of a child support order, may enforce the order with respect to nonmodifiable obligations and unsatisfied obligations that accrued before the date on which a modification of the order is made.
A court of a state may make a modification of a child support order that is made by a court of another state if the court has jurisdiction to make such a child support order and the court of the other state no longer has continuing, exclusive jurisdiction of the child support order because that state no longer is the child's state or the residence of any contestant. Additionally, a court of a state may make a modification of a child support order that is made by a court of another state if each contestant has filed written consent to the court making the modification and assuming continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over the order. The general rule as to choice of law is that in a proceeding to establish, modify, or enforce a child support order, the forum state's law must apply. A court must apply the law of the state of the court that issued the order. Also, in an action to enforce a child support order, a court must apply the statute of limitations of the forum state or the state of the court that issued the order, whichever statute of limitations is longer.
Copyright 2006 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.