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The Office of Child Support EnforcementGiving Hope and Support to America's Children

Full faith and credit for child support orders

U.S. Code Title 28 Part V Chapter 115 Sec. 1738B.

From the U.S. Code Online via GPO Access
[wais.access.gpo.gov]
[Laws in effect as of January 2, 2001]
[Document not affected by Public Laws enacted between
  January 2, 2001 and January 28, 2002]
[CITE: 28USC1738B]

 
               TITLE 28--JUDICIARY AND JUDICIAL PROCEDURE
 
                            PART V--PROCEDURE
 
                   CHAPTER 115--EVIDENCE; DOCUMENTARY
 
Sec. 1738B. Full faith and credit for child support orders

    (a) General Rule.--The appropriate authorities of each State--
        (1) shall enforce according to its terms a child support order 
    made consistently with this section by a court of another State; and
        (2) shall not seek or make a modification of such an order 
    except in accordance with subsections (e), (f), and (i).

    (b) Definitions.--In this section:
        ``child'' means--
            (A) a person under 18 years of age; and
            (B) a person 18 or more years of age with respect to whom a 
        child support order has been issued pursuant to the laws of a 
        State.

        ``child's State'' means the State in which a child resides.
        ``child's home State'' means the State in which a child lived 
    with a parent or a person acting as parent for at least 6 
    consecutive months immediately preceding the time of filing of a 
    petition or comparable pleading for support and, if a child is less 
    than 6 months old, the State in which the child lived from birth 
    with any of them. A period of temporary absence of any of them is 
    counted as part of the 6-month period.
        ``child support'' means a payment of money, continuing support, 
    or arrearages or the provision of a benefit (including payment of 
    health insurance, child care, and educational expenses) for the 
    support of a child.
        ``child support order''--
            (A) means a judgment, decree, or order of a court requiring 
        the payment of child support in periodic amounts or in a lump 
        sum; and
            (B) includes--
                (i) a permanent or temporary order; and
                (ii) an initial order or a modification of an order.

        ``contestant'' means--
            (A) a person (including a parent) who--
                (i) claims a right to receive child support;
                (ii) is a party to a proceeding that may result in the 
            issuance of a child support order; or
                (iii) is under a child support order; and

            (B) a State or political subdivision of a State to which the 
        right to obtain child support has been assigned.

        ``court'' means a court or administrative agency of a State that 
    is authorized by State law to establish the amount of child support 
    payable by a contestant or make a modification of a child support 
    order.
        ``modification'' means a change in a child support order that 
    affects the amount, scope, or duration of the order and modifies, 
    replaces, supersedes, or otherwise is made subsequent to the child 
    support order.
        ``State'' means a State of the United States, the District of 
    Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the territories and 
    possessions of the United States, and Indian country (as defined in 
    section 1151 of title 18).

    (c) Requirements of Child Support Orders.--A child support order 
made by a court of a State is made consistently with this section if--
        (1) a court that makes the order, pursuant to the laws of the 
    State in which the court is located and subsections (e), (f), and 
    (g)--
            (A) has subject matter jurisdiction to hear the matter and 
        enter such an order; and
            (B) has personal jurisdiction over the contestants; and

        (2) reasonable notice and opportunity to be heard is given to 
    the contestants.

    (d) Continuing Jurisdiction.--A court of a State that has made a 
child support order consistently with this section has continuing, 
exclusive jurisdiction over the order if the State is the child's State 
or the residence of any individual contestant unless the court of 
another State, acting in accordance with subsections (e) and (f), has 
made a modification of the order.
    (e) Authority To Modify Orders.--A court of a State may modify a 
child support order issued by a court of another State if--
        (1) the court has jurisdiction to make such a child support 
    order pursuant to subsection (i); and
        (2)(A) 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 individual 
    contestant; or
        (B) each individual contestant has filed written consent with 
    the State of continuing, exclusive jurisdiction for a court of 
    another State to modify the order and assume continuing, exclusive 
    jurisdiction over the order.

    (f) Recognition of Child Support Orders.--If 1 or more child support 
orders have been issued with regard to an obligor and a child, a court 
shall apply the following rules in determining which order to recognize 
for purposes of continuing, exclusive jurisdiction and enforcement:
        (1) If only 1 court has issued a child support order, the order 
    of that court must be recognized.
        (2) If 2 or more courts have issued child support orders for the 
    same obligor and child, and only 1 of the courts would have 
    continuing, exclusive jurisdiction under this section, the order of 
    that court must be recognized.
        (3) If 2 or more courts have issued child support orders for the 
    same obligor and child, and more than 1 of the courts would have 
    continuing, exclusive jurisdiction under this section, an order 
    issued by a court in the current home State of the child must be 
    recognized, but if an order has not been issued in the current home 
    State of the child, the order most recently issued must be 
    recognized.
        (4) If 2 or more courts have issued child support orders for the 
    same obligor and child, and none of the courts would have 
    continuing, exclusive jurisdiction under this section, a court 
    having jurisdiction over the parties shall issue a child support 
    order, which must be recognized.
        (5) The court that has issued an order recognized under this 
    subsection is the court having continuing, exclusive jurisdiction 
    under subsection (d).

    (g) Enforcement of Modified Orders.--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 under subsections (e) and (f).
    (h) Choice of Law.--
        (1) In general.--In a proceeding to establish, modify, or 
    enforce a child support order, the forum State's law shall apply 
    except as provided in paragraphs (2) and (3).
        (2) Law of state of issuance of order.--In interpreting a child 
    support order including the duration of current payments and other 
    obligations of support, a court shall apply the law of the State of 
    the court that issued the order.
        (3) Period of limitation.--In an action to enforce arrears under 
    a child support order, a court shall apply the statute of limitation 
    of the forum State or the State of the court that issued the order, 
    whichever statute provides the longer period of limitation.

    (i) Registration for Modification.--If there is no individual 
contestant or child residing in the issuing State, the party or support 
enforcement agency seeking to modify, or to modify and enforce, a child 
support order issued in another State shall register that order in a 
State with jurisdiction over the nonmovant for the purpose of 
modification.

(Added Pub. L. 103-383, Sec. 3(a), Oct. 20, 1994, 108 Stat. 4064; 
amended Pub. L. 104-193, title III, Sec. 322, Aug. 22, 1996, 110 Stat. 
2221; Pub. L. 105-33, title V, Sec. 5554, Aug. 5, 1997, 111 Stat. 636.)


                               Amendments

    1997--Subsec. (f)(4). Pub. L. 105-33, Sec. 5554(1), substituted ``a 
court having jurisdiction over the parties shall issue a child support 
order, which must be recognized.'' for ``a court may issue a child 
support order, which must be recognized.''
    Subsec. (f)(5). Pub. L. 105-33, Sec. 5554(2), inserted ``under 
subsection (d)'' after ``jurisdiction''.
    1996--Subsec. (a)(2). Pub. L. 104-193, Sec. 322(1), substituted 
``subsections (e), (f), and (i)'' for ``subsection (e)''.
    Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 104-193, Sec. 322(2), inserted par. defining 
``child's home State''.
    Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 104-193, Sec. 322(3), inserted ``by a court of 
a State'' before ``is made'' in introductory provisions.
    Subsec. (c)(1). Pub. L. 104-193, Sec. 322(4), inserted ``and 
subsections (e), (f), and (g)'' after ``located''.
    Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 104-193, Sec. 322(5), inserted ``individual'' 
before ``contestant'' and substituted ``subsections (e) and (f)'' for 
``subsection (e)''.
    Subsec. (e). Pub. L. 104-193, Sec. 322(6), substituted ``modify a 
child support order issued'' for ``make a modification of a child 
support order with respect to a child that is made'' in introductory 
provisions.
    Subsec. (e)(1). Pub. L. 104-193, Sec. 322(7), inserted ``pursuant to 
subsection (i)'' after ``order''.
    Subsec. (e)(2). Pub. L. 104-193, Sec. 322(8), inserted 
``individual'' before ``contestant'' in subpars. (A) and (B) and 
substituted ``with the State of continuing, exclusive jurisdiction for a 
court of another State to modify the order and assume'' for ``to that 
court's making the modification and assuming'' in subpar. (B).
    Subsec. (f). Pub. L. 104-193, Sec. 322(10), added subsec. (f). 
Former subsec. (f) redesignated (g).
    Subsec. (g). Pub. L. 104-193, Sec. 322(11), substituted ``Modified'' 
for ``Prior'' in heading and ``subsections (e) and (f)'' for 
``subsection (e)'' in text.
    Pub. L. 104-193, Sec. 322(9), redesignated subsec. (f) as (g). 
Former subsec. (g) redesignated (h).
    Subsec. (h). Pub. L. 104-193, Sec. 322(12), inserted ``including the 
duration of current payments and other obligations of support'' before 
comma in par. (2) and ``arrears under'' after ``enforce'' in par. (3).
    Pub. L. 104-193, Sec. 322(9), redesignated subsec. (g) as (h).
    Subsec. (i). Pub. L. 104-193, Sec. 322(13), added subsec. (i).


                    Effective Date of 1997 Amendment

    Amendment by Pub. L. 105-33 effective as if included in enactment of 
title III of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity 
Reconciliation Act of 1996, Pub. L. 104-193, see section 5557 of Pub. L. 
105-33, set out as a note under section 608 of Title 42, The Public 
Health and Welfare.


                    Effective Date of 1996 Amendment

    For effective date of amendment by Pub. L. 104-193, see section 
395(a)-(c) of Pub. L. 104-193, set out as a note under section 654 of 
Title 42, The Public Health and Welfare.


            Congressional Findings and Declaration of Purpose

    Section 2 of Pub. L. 103-383 provided that:
    ``(a) Findings.--The Congress finds that--
        ``(1) there is a large and growing number of child support cases 
    annually involving disputes between parents who reside in different 
    States;
        ``(2) the laws by which the courts of different jurisdictions 
    determine their authority to establish child support orders are not 
    uniform;
        ``(3) those laws, along with the limits imposed by the Federal 
    system on the authority of each State to take certain actions 
    outside its own boundaries--
            ``(A) encourage noncustodial parents to relocate outside the 
        States where their children and the custodial parents reside to 
        avoid the jurisdiction of the courts of such States, resulting 
        in an increase in the amount of interstate travel and 
        communication required to establish and collect on child support 
        orders and a burden on custodial parents that is expensive, time 
        consuming, and disruptive of occupations and commercial 
        activity;
            ``(B) contribute to the pressing problem of relatively low 
        levels of child support payments in interstate cases and to 
        inequities in child support payments levels that are based 
        solely on the noncustodial parent's choice of residence;
            ``(C) encourage a disregard of court orders resulting in 
        massive arrearages nationwide;
            ``(D) allow noncustodial parents to avoid the payment of 
        regularly scheduled child support payments for extensive periods 
        of time, resulting in substantial hardship for the children for 
        whom support is due and for their custodians; and
            ``(E) lead to the excessive relitigation of cases and to the 
        establishment of conflicting orders by the courts of various 
        jurisdictions, resulting in confusion, waste of judicial 
        resources, disrespect for the courts, and a diminution of public 
        confidence in the rule of law; and
        ``(4) among the results of the conditions described in this 
    subsection are--
            ``(A) the failure of the courts of the States to give full 
        faith and credit to the judicial proceedings of the other 
        States;
            ``(B) the deprivation of rights of liberty and property 
        without due process of law;
            ``(C) burdens on commerce among the States; and
            ``(D) harm to the welfare of children and their parents and 
        other custodians.
    ``(b) Statement of Policy.--In view of the findings made in 
subsection (a), it is necessary to establish national standards under 
which the courts of the various States shall determine their 
jurisdiction to issue a child support order and the effect to be given 
by each State to child support orders issued by the courts of other 
States.
    ``(c) Purposes.--The purposes of this Act [enacting this section and 
provisions set out as a note under section 1 of this title] are--
        ``(1) to facilitate the enforcement of child support orders 
    among the States;
        ``(2) to discourage continuing interstate controversies over 
    child support in the interest of greater financial stability and 
    secure family relationships for the child; and
        ``(3) to avoid jurisdictional competition and conflict among 
    State courts in the establishment of child support orders.''


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