How are support orders enforced when the obligated spouse or parent moves out of state? 10

About: Child Support

Ensuring that Child Support and Alimony Payments are Made

Alimony and child support orders are governed by the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) of 2001 which allows claimants to require other states to honor and enforce orders that were issued in the claimant’s home state.

To access the benefits of the Act, you have a few options. You can file a request for child support enforcement in the state where your ex resides or you can ask a court in your state to forward the support order to your ex’s state and have that state’s courts enforce the order.

You may also be able to forward the order directly to your spouse’s employer and request that the employer withhold money from his or her paycheck to satisfy the support order. You can also simply file an action in a court in your state and ask that they force your ex to pay up. This may be a somewhat complicated matter due to the need to get adequate personal service of the legal paperwork on your ex in another state. The legal technicalities of interstate service can be somewhat frustrating at times.

Once served, your ex must make payment arrangements or he or she could face jail time as a result. In addition, federal law allows a variety of methods for procuring the funds for back child support including wage garnishment, seizure of property and even the diversion of a tax refund from your ex to you.

If the past due support is child support, there are generally state and/or local agencies which can help with enforcement and collection, even if it is an interstate issue. If the past due support is alimony, the government agencies have differing rules – some will help collect alimony alone, others will only assist with alimony collection if you are also trying to collect child support. Check with your state’s child support enforcement agency and they will help guide you through the process.

Obviously, these methods will only work if you know where your ex is currently living. For those who aren’t sure about the location of their ex-spouse, you can seek help from parent locator services at both the state and federal level.

In addition, your local District Attorney can help you use the legal system to locate your missing spouse.


  • Thomas Josephs

    Again, child support and alimony are mixed togeather. They are not the SAME.

    • Monica Mazzei

      That’s right – alimony is another name for spousal support. Generally, in a dissolution (aka: divorce), if there are children of the marriage, the court will issue separate orders for spousal support and child child supoprt.

      Some states, however, recognize a form of support that combines both spousal and child support. For example, California courts recognize “family support” which is one payment which is intended to be both spousal and child support.

  • smooth

    Can one withhold visitation from your ex-spouse (even though court ordered) if they do not pay child support? For example, “You can not see your daughter this weekend until you pay child support!”

  • Dew

    What can I do to get my support order enforced when my ex moved out of state and will not tell anyone where he works. I believe he is being paid as a contractor for himself but someone is cutting him a check. He is over $50,000 in arrears and sends money whenever he feels like it, $100 here and there, refusing to pay the alimony portion. My case worker said she doesn’t want to ask his new state for help (to get new hire info) because she will loose control over the case, which is just not true, I read so. She also says she is too busy to help me and is extremely rude, I have been trying to get her help or advice for over 2 years now and she won’t call me back and the only couple times I have actually spoken with her she literally tells me too bad.
    I was a stay at home mom (of 2) for 11 years, I just can’t make more then just over minium wage now. I am back in college now so I can in a couple years get that job that will enable me to support them w/o his help. Right now my boyfriend supports us, but it’s not his responsibility and i feel bad. But its either that or welfare.
    I don’t know where to go to find out where he is working? I have his address SS# and everything. His new state says i need to go through my case worker and she needs to contact them, LOL!!!!! Not gonna happen.
    What can I do? Who will help me?
    OVER $50,000!!!!!! How is that possible??

  • greg

    i was court ordered to make a house payment in a divorce i have currently moved to another state and can no longer afford to make the house payment can i be extradited and put in jail for this

  • Love your kids

    DO NOT DO THAT! It will make you look bad and the child will eventually turn on you to be a bitter person. Child support and Visitation/custody are separate issues. So if you want your child to learn hate, go right on. If you however want to teach them values and love then by golly let them see their other parent. Good luck in teaching your child.

  • Tamara

    I was awarded alimony in a NC court and my husb did not show and is in contempt of ct. He had fled to PA 2 yrs ago. I am trying to get this support garnished from his employer in NY and thy tell me I need to have the NC Alimony Order docketed in NY…before they can carry out the order and garnish (the judge ordered garnishment sepcifically in the order). Noe NY corut administration tells me I cannot get it docketed or “buy an index number” because my husb did not appear at the trial and the order is a default judgement. It does not say default judgement on the top of the order, It just says defendant not present at trial. What can I do? Can I get this docketed pro se- as I have no financial means to hire a NY atty.

  • amelia

    I was advised that collecting alimony from a spouse who has moved out of state( in my case 1500 miles away) could turn in to a nightmare to collect, as there is no government forced collection as there is with child support.
    A question, my spouse left and never paid child support until 13 months later, and a legal order was signed. Meanwhile, 13 months went by without me receiving any child support. My divorce has settled, yet he never paid this. I recently read where the statute of limitations on this in my state is 14 years, How can I easily go about collecting? North Carolina.

  • shane

    if i move out of one state to seek employment and am supposed to pay spousal support, but can not or do not, what can happen? are statute of limitations ruled state to state

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