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Jurisdictional requirements for modifying child support orders

Following the finalization of California divorces that involve child support orders, it is common for the circumstances of the parents and children to change, particularly the financial statuses of the parents. Since the child support obligations were calculated before these financial changes, the payments could have a big impact on either or all parties. When a parent petitions for a modification of the child support order, however, the court that has jurisdiction over the case must be considered, especially when the parents or the child have moved to another state.

The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act addresses the issue of which court has jurisdiction over modifying child support orders. The UIFSA has been adopted in every state. In California, the state has exclusive and continuing jurisdiction over child support orders if the obligor, the obligee or the child remain residents of the state.

In some situations, the obligor may move following a divorce and lives in a different state than the custodial parent and child. If the obligor moved to California and wants to file a petition to modify the child support order, the individual can file the petition in the state to initiate the proceedings in the state in which the custodial parent and child live. In a situation where the custodial parent and child moved to California, the petition may be filed in the obligor's home state as long as it is the state that issued the order.

Child support disputes can become contentious, but there are many cases where the parent who is under a court order to make payments becomes unable to do so because of an unexpected financial downturn. Those who are in this position may want to discuss with a family law attorney the requirements for seeking a modification.

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