This topic contains information on the following:
15. Interstate rendition.
Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) is a state law (NCGS 52C) enacted in NC in 1996 to address the inadequacies of URESA (Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act) in interstate case processing. UIFSA defines the issues of jurisdiction over nonresidents and the duties of initiating and responding tribunals, and along with federal regulations, it provides one-state remedies for case processing when the noncustodial parent (NCP) resides in a different state from the custodial parent.
The main concept of UIFSA is, once a support order is entered, that order controls the child support obligation. The order remains in effect whether or not the parents or child later move to another state. UIFSA contains provisions for determining which existing support order will control when multiple orders exist.
1. UIFSA provides for one order at any time. If multiple orders exist for a case, the controlling order must be determined.
2. UIFSA provides that a registered order continues to be the order of the issuing state and cannot be modified except in specific circumstances.
3. UIFSA contains provisions for asserting jurisdiction over a respondent. The respondent's state must help the issuing state with interstate transmission of evidence and discovery.
4. UIFSA allows enforcement through direct income withholding in the obligor's work state.
5. UIFSA provides that the issuing state's law governs interpretation of the order and that the longer statute of limitations of the two states applies for the enforcement of arrearages.
6. UIFSA remedies are available to both the obligee and obligor. For example, both the mother or alleged father can seek establishment of parentage or the modification of an existing order.
The following proceedings can be brought under UIFSA:
1. Establishment of an order for child or spousal support.
2. Enforcement of a support order and income withholding order of another state without registration.
3. Registration of a child support order of another state for enforcement.
4. Modification of a child support order issued by a tribunal of this state.
5. Registration of a child support order of another state for modification.
6. Determination of parentage.
7. Assertion of jurisdiction over nonresidents (“long-arm”).
A court can be the court of "continuing exclusive jurisdiction " (CEJ) if it can obtain subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction. "Subject matter jurisdiction" means that a court has the authority to find that a person has a duty to support a child and to order that person to pay child support.
"Personal jurisdiction" means that a court has the authority to make a ruling that is binding on a particular person. A court can obtain personal jurisdiction if a person resides in North Carolina, can be served in NC (also through long-arm procedures), or has taken or committed some action in NC that allows a NC court to assert jurisdiction over that person, even if that person later left the state. In NC, the District Court is authorized to hear these matters.
The court with CEJ is the only court that can make decisions regarding current or future child support. The state that enters an order retains CEJ so long as the child (or either of the parties to the case) resides in the issuing state. A state can relinquish CEJ when neither the child nor any of the parties continue to reside in the state, or when each party has filed written consent with the issuing state to transfer jurisdiction to another state. No state has the authority to modify an order of another state, as long as the conditions that are required for CEJ continue to be met by the issuing state.
Since UIFSA is designed to provide for only one support order at a time (the controlling order), the state that has CEJ must be determined when multiple orders exist for a case. A state has CEJ under the following circumstances:
1. The obligor, obligee, or the child continue to live in the state that issued the order, or
2. The parties have filed written notice with the issuing tribunal to allow another state's tribunal to modify the order and assume CEJ.
UIFSA provides the following rules to determine the controlling order:
1. If only one (1) tribunal has issued a child support order, that tribunal has CEJ. That child support order controls and must be recognized.
2. If two (2) or more child support orders have been filed for the same obligor and child(ren), the North Carolina tribunal applies the following guidelines to determine the controlling order:
3. If two (2) or more child support orders have been issued for the same obligor and child and the obligor or the obligee resides in North Carolina, either party can request that a NC tribunal determine which order controls.
A support order that does not meet all of these conditions can be subject to challenge in either the issuing forum or in the state where enforcement is sought.
A North Carolina tribunal that identifies the controlling order or issues a new controlling order shall state in that order the basis for its determination. In the new order, the wording should address CEJ. (EX: NC has CEJ as the parties now reside in this state.) Notice concerning the determination of the controlling order should be provided to the central registries of all those states with orders.
Once the controlling order has been determined, it does not eliminate any arrearages that might have accrued prior to the determination. An arrearage reconciliation calculation must be done when determining the controlling order, so that all arrearages owed under all orders can be collected through the controlling order.
When more than one order is in effect at a time, the total amount of support due is based on the highest order in effect during that time, not the total of the orders in effect. Once a determination of controlling order is made, the arrearages that accumulate from that point forward are based on the terms of the controlling order.
Two child support orders exist for a case-- a Texas order for $100 per month, effective Jan. 1, 1990, and a North Carolina order for $200 per month, effective Jan. 1, 1991. By applying the rules of UIFSA, the circumstances of the case determine the Texas order to be the controlling order. The determination of arrearages would be as follows:
Arrearages are consolidated into a single amount that the NCP owes at a specific point in time. The arrearage balance is then collected through the enforcement of the controlling order.
Generally, the responding state's law controls a UIFSA proceeding. However, UIFSA provides that the issuing state's law governs the nature, extent, amount, and duration of the current support and other support obligations. When proceeding to collect on arrearages, the law of the state with the longest statute of limitations applies.
Some exceptions exist to UIFSA's general rule that the law of the responding state applies, such as the following:
1. What known information must be included in a UIFSA petition (such as information about the parties, location information, or relief that is sought);
2. Nondisclosure of the address of the custodial parent (CP) and children (when a tribunal has determined that their health or safety might be at risk); or
3. Limited immunity from service of process when an individual is in a state to participate in a UIFSA action. (For example, an obligee comes to this state for a modification proceeding. The obligee cannot be served with a custody/visitation complaint.)
UIFSA provides that a tribunal shall order that the address of a child or party (or other identifying information) cannot be disclosed in pleadings or other documents filed in a UIFSA proceeding, if a finding has been made that disclosing this information would put the health, safety, or liberty of a party or child unreasonably at risk.
When a referral is made to another tribunal, the referral must state whether the nondisclosure finding was made pursuant to UIFSA or due to an existing protective order. If a copy of the existing protective order exists, it should be attached to the referral.
UIFSA provides that the federally-mandated interstate forms are admissible in evidence when given under oath by a party or witness residing in another state. A certified copy of a child support payment record is admissible to show whether payments were made. A responding tribunal does not require the physical presence of the petitioner for any remedy allowed under UIFSA.
UIFSA and federal regulations allow the initiation of an action in the state of the obligee when the obligor is in another state, without involving that second state in a formal two-state process. In one-state processing the initial state is attempting to work a case without the assistance of another state's CSS agency. States also can request the limited services of another state without formally creating a two-state case.
The advantages of working a case in-state include:
The disadvantages of working a case in-state include:
The use of one-state remedies refers to the exercise of a state's jurisdiction over a nonresident parent or direct establishment, enforcement, or other action by a state against a nonresident parent in accordance with the long-arm provision of NCGS 52C.
Examples of one-state remedies include:
Federal regulations require that potential interstate paternity cases be screened for the use of the long-arm statutes before initiating a two-state case. North Carolina's Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) provides broad provisions for asserting jurisdiction over a noncustodial parent (NCP) for the establishment of paternity and support. An order obtained pursuant to a long-arm proceeding gives the local tribunal continuing and exclusive jurisdiction (CEJ) for the purpose of modifying the order.
A court can also exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident in order to establish, enforce, or modify a support order if:
The local CSS attorney can provide assistance to the caseworker when attempting to determine whether jurisdiction can be asserted over an individual.
When it has been determined that sufficient grounds exist to exercise long-arm jurisdiction, the procedures for filing a long-arm action are:
1. The CSS caseworker obtains the necessary information to file a civil complaint from the mother. The complaint must state the basis for filing (long-arm jurisdiction), the information surrounding the relationship of the parties and children, the agency's or state's involvement in the matter, and the relief being sought (paternity and/or support establishment, reimbursement of retroactive support owed to the state, and/or medical support.)
2. The putative father is served with the complaint in accordance with Rule 4 of the NC Rules of Civil Procedure.
3. The CSS attorney files an Affidavit of Service with the court, and a hearing is scheduled.
4. Local CSS must advise the putative father of the hearing date.
5. If the putative father was properly served but fails to appear for the hearing, the court proceeds to rule on the issues properly before the court.
6. If the obligor defaults on the order at a later date, the judgment (usually by default) can be enforced by the NC court or it can be registered for enforcement in the obligor's state of residence.
When the local agency has filed a long-arm suit but has been unable to obtain service on the putative father, the local CSS agency can request assistance with service of process from the putative father's state of residence. It is suggested that caseworkers should contact the putative father's state to determine what fees might be charged for service.
If service cannot be accomplished, a petition to establish paternity and support can be forwarded to the putative father's state of residence. The petition should note the attempted long-arm action and the inability to proceed due to problems with service of process. The state then becomes a two-state case.
The Interstate Administrative Subpoena is used as a one-state process to gather information about a noncustodial parent (NCP) from an entity located in another state. Entities include (but are not limited to) state and local governments, individuals, businesses, and financial institutions. The Interstate Administrative Subpoena (DSS-4700) is sent by first class mail or registered mail directly to the entity involved. All entities must honor these requests as if they were issued in-state. This subpoena is to be used to command someone's physical presence.
If the requested information in the subpoena is not forthcoming, the initiating CSS office can contact the Central Registry in the other state to request limited assistance. A phone call or letter from the Central Registry might result in the firm or business cooperating with the terms of the subpoena.
Direct income withholding (DIW) is an administrative one-state remedy used to enforce orders when the noncustodial parent (NCP) is employed in a state other than the initiating state. The initiating state’s CSS office sends the I/W notice directly to the NCP's employer in the responding state.
If the employer fails to comply with the terms of the DIW, the initiating CSS agency requests the assistance of the CSS agency in the NCP’s state.
Before sending an order for direct withholding in CSS cases with multiple orders, arrearages and continuing exclusive jurisdiction (CEJ) must be determined
Under UIFSA, service of a direct income withholding order is restricted to the person or entity that is defined as the obligor's employer under the income withholding laws of the obligor's work state.
Unemployment Insurance Benefits (UIB) and Workers' Compensation benefits cannot be attached unless the work state's income withholding law defines the payor of such benefits as an employer. To determine if the work state allows this, CSS caseworkers can access the Intergovernmental Referral Guide (IRG) on the OCSE website: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/css/irg-state-map.
North Carolina CSS must send two (2) copies of the Income Withholding For Support (DSS-4702) document to the employer.
This information helps the employer to determine that the order is to be given the same consideration as an in-state order and to ensure that payments are directed to the correct payee.
UIFSA allows the orders to be sent to the obligor's employer by any appropriate service method under NC General Statutes. For more information, refer to the “Guidelines for Diligent Service of Process”.
Upon receipt of the order the employer must do the following:
1. Process the order in the same manner as an order that is issued by the state where the employer is located;
2. Provide the obligor with a copy of the order immediately; and
3. Process and distribute the payments per the instructions in the order.
NOTE: It is important to remember that the work state becomes the responding state once the initiating state requests services and an order is registered. This means NC could be the initiating or the work/responding state.
Under UIFSA, the employer must comply with a direct withholding if it contains all the information indicated in the “DIRECT INCOME WITHHOLDING PROCEDURES” subsection above. The order remains in effect until it is suspended or terminated by a tribunal or by the state that issued the order.
The work state law applies in direct withholding cases and controls the following:
1. The fees that the employer can deduct for the withholding;
2. The time frames that the employer has for remitting payments;
3. The time frames that the employer has to begin withholding payments;
4. Any sanctions upon the employer for failure to comply with the order;
5. The meaning of "income" and "disposable income";
6. The handling of lump-sum payments to the obligor;
7. The maximum amount permitted to be withheld from an obligor; and
8. If the employer receives multiple income withholding for the same obligor, the employer complies with the work state law to determine how the income is to be withheld and allocated for the multiple child support obligees.
For example, if the obligor is working in NC and a direct withholding is sent to this state by the state of Virginia, NC law would apply in all of the matters indicated above.
Under UIFSA, the obligor can contest the withholding within ten (10) days of receiving the Notice of Intent to Withhold. The grounds for contesting withholding in an interstate CSS case are the same as those for a domestic CSS case. Obligors must advise each employer, the CSS agency providing service to the obligee, and the collection agency that is receiving the payments of their intent to contest the withholding.
The hearing to contest takes place in the obligor's work state. If the CSS agency in the obligor's work state receives the obligor's request for contest, the state issuing the direct income withholding order must be notified immediately. The issuing state is encouraged to attempt to resolve the dispute informally.
If the contest cannot be resolved informally, the issuing state must do one of the following things:
1. Provide the appropriate tribunal in the obligor's work state with sufficient information (such as a copy of order, notice of intent, arrearage affidavit, etc.) to make a formal disposition of the contest;
2. Request the other state use administrative process to implement withholding. NC as a work state does not have an administrative procedure to accomplish this;
3. Request the obligor's work state to register the order.
The obligor's work state treats the order as a contested order and immediately proceeds to resolve the matter through a hearing or other appropriate remedy in that state.
If NC is the initiating state, local CSS must contact the obligor and attempt to resolve the matter informally. If the matter cannot be resolved, the withholding should be terminated, and a request made to the work state for registration and enforcement of the order.
If the obligor works in NC, the withholding can be contested by notifying the local CSS office in the county of residence or county of employment. Since this is a direct withholding, local CSS might not know about the withholding. Therefore, if a local CSS office receives a request to contest a withholding, the initiating state must be advised immediately. The initiating state can decide to either provide the necessary information to the local office in order to assist in making a determination for the case or to terminate the withholding and initiate a traditional two-state enforcement action by requesting that the work state (NC) register the order and resolve the matter by hearing or other remedy.
UIFSA does not provide a means for an employer to contest a direct income withholding action. If the withholding order that is entered by a tribunal sets a support amount, specifies to whom payments are to be made, and is signed by a judge or hearing officer, the employer is required to begin distributing funds.
Two (2) options are available to the state issuing the direct income withholding for enforcement against an employer who fails to honor a direct withholding:
1. The state that is issuing the direct income withholding can elect to register the income withholding order with the appropriate tribunal in the employer's state. If the employer fails to honor the registered income withholding, the responding state would be able to pursue enforcement action using its laws.
2. The state that is issuing the direct income withholding can elect to initiate enforcement action directly against the employer. The issuing state derives its authority from the fact that the employer's state has enacted and implemented UIFSA. Using this option, the CSS agency in the employer's state does not undertake the actual enforcement action. However, the CSS agency in the employer's state can provide technical assistance to the issuing state in its efforts to enforce compliance with the direct income withholding.
The laws and rules of the obligor's work state would govern any enforcement action that is pursued against a noncompliant employer, regardless of which method is used.
For CSS cases that have other issues for consideration, such as the need to establish medical support, direct withholding should not be initiated.
Direct income withholding also should not be used in situations where a two-state CSS case already exists and the responding agency is enforcing that case. If the initiating agency determines that direct income withholding is appropriate, a request should be sent to the responding agency to close the interstate CSS case. The Income Withholding For Support (DSS-4702) document can then be sent to the employer.
Direct income withholding should NOT be used on another state's order that does not designate NC's State Disbursement Unit (NCCSCC) as the agency where child support payments are to be forwarded. Another state agency cannot administratively change the payee or agency or redirect the payments from the payee or agency that is designated to receive the payments for an order issued by another state.
Direct withholding also should not be used in the following situations:
1. Arrearages are in dispute;
2. Active bankruptcy cases with bankruptcy petitions filed prior to October 17, 2005;
3. CSS cases with statute of limitations problems;
4. CSS cases for which more than one state might be taking enforcement action (EX: several states are pursuing collection of Public Assistance arrearages);
5. CSS cases with existing support orders that do not include income withholding language. The order cannot be modified by NC due to lack of jurisdiction; or
6. CSS cases with unresolved issues such as medical support establishment.
An employer can terminate a direct income withholding upon receipt of a tribunal's order directing the employer to do so, when the obligor terminates his/her employment, or when the state that is issuing the income withholding order advises the employer to terminate the income withholding order.
Child support debts are considered liens by operation of law. In interstate one-state activities, liens can be filed on property owned by a noncustodial parent (NCP) located in a state other than the state where the NCP resides. A lien attached to a designated piece of property owned by an NCP prevents the sale or disposal of the property until the child support debt is satisfied. The property can be real (such as a house or land) or personal (such as a boat or automobile). Liens are satisfied in the order in which they have been filed.
Liens affect the credit rating of the NCP and prohibit the property from being used as collateral in other transactions. Liens should not be filed against property jointly owned by the NCP and a current spouse. However, a lien can be filed if the property is jointly owned with another party.
Federal regulations require states to give full faith and credit to child support liens. Liens must be issued in accordance with the law of the issuing state. In order to file a lien in North Carolina, the NCP must be $3000 in arrears or three (3) months delinquent in child support payments, whichever occurs first.
For example, New York statutes might permit a lien to be filed when the NCP is $2000 in arrears. However, the lien request from New York cannot be filed until the criterion in NC ($3000) is met. The laws and procedures of the state where the property is located determine the appropriate entity to receive the lien for filing.
Once CSS caseworkers have determined that a lien is necessary, they complete the Verified Statement For Claim Of Lien/Notice Of Filing Of Verified Statement For Claim Of Lien (DSS-4698/4699) to record the lien and notify the NCP. A legal description of the property in the other state is included in the Verified Statement.
CSS caseworkers then submit the Verified Statement and proof of property to the supervisor or attorney for review. The lien request is filed with the local Clerk of Court. A transcript is forwarded to the entity responsible for filing the lien in the state where the property is located. The NCP is served with the Notice Of Lien and a copy of the Verified Statement For Claim Of Lien by Rule 4 of the NC Rules of Civil Procedure.
The Interstate Notice of Lien (DSS-4701) is completed and forwarded to the entity in the other state responsible for filing liens in the county where the property is located.
The Intergovernmental Referral Guide (IRG) contains information about other states' lien procedures. The IRG Public Map Page can be accessed through the OCSE website: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/css/irg-state-map.
The lien is perfected when the Interstate Notice Of Lien is filed with the designated representative or entity in the responding state. This lien is superior over all subsequently filed liens and continues from the date of filing until discharged.
Execution is the enforcement of an existing lien against the property of the NCP. It requires that the property be sold and the proceeds be used to pay the arrearage. If CSS decides to execute on the lien, the CSS agency in the initiating state requests services from the CSS agency in the responding state for assistance. The procedure then becomes a two-state process, and the appropriate paperwork is sent. If the custodial parent requests that CSS services be terminated prior to the execution on the lien, the CSS caseworker notifies the designated official in the responding state. The custodial parent's (CP’s) mailing address is provided in the event that the lien is executed at a later date.
A state CSS agency can seek assistance from another state's CSS agency without opening a case. These requests are sent to the other state's central registry for monitoring and assuring service delivery. The expectation is the provision of a one-time service for the initiating state (the state requesting assistance) to assist with case processing.
Examples of limited services include: Quick Locate, service of process, assistance with discovery, assistance with paternity testing, teleconferenced hearings, administrative reviews, high-volume automated administrative enforcement, and providing copies of court orders and payment records. Requests for limited services can be honored at the state's option.
"Quick Locate" services are appropriate to find address and employment information for an out-of-state noncustodial parent (NCP). These requests can be made for in-state cases and interstate initiating cases. Quick Locate requests are sent to the responding state's Central Registry where the State Parent Locate unit accesses local sources (such as the Department of Motor Vehicles) to determine the location of the NCP. This does not require the responding state to initiate a case, send an acknowledgment of receipt of request, or verify information. Requests are transmitted electronically through CSENet.
Quick Locate services should also be used to locate custodial parents (CPs) for the purpose of distributing child support. If the initiating state has closed the intergovernmental case without notifying the responding state and the responding state has collected child support and forwarded it to the initiating state, the initiating state is responsible for re-opening the intergovernmental case, locating the CP, and disbursing the support.
An initiating state can ask a CSS agency in another state to assist with:
1. Providing copies of documentation - This could be in the form of certified copies of orders, payment records or any other requests that can assist in case processing;
2. Providing assistance with service of process – CSS should attach the documents necessary for service of process. The responding agency finds the appropriate process server and initiates service of process. Proof of service is returned to the requesting state. Communication with the responding state is necessary to determine if that state has similar requirements for service of process and what fees might be associated with the process. The process should meet the requirements of the requesting state as to the method and proof of service;
3. Providing assistance with paternity testing – CSS should include any necessary information such as the names of paternity testing labs;
4. Providing assistance with interrogatories – CSS should attach the interrogatories. Discovery procedures are outlined in the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedures. Local CSS agents should consult with the CSS attorney when discovery assistance is needed for outgoing or incoming referrals;
5. Providing assistance with scheduling teleconferences for hearings and depositions – CSS should attach a copy of the hearing notice or deposition;
6. Obtaining financial data/proof of NCP’s income – CSS should be specific as to the requested information; and/or
7. Obtaining signatures on attached forms – CSS should request assistance only after having attempted and failed to obtain the signature.
All documentation needed by the receiving state to comply with the request for services should be forwarded to the responding state's Central Registry. The Central Registry forwards the request on to the appropriate jurisdiction to provide the requested service.
Upon request, the receiving CSS agency must provide the following limited services: service of process, assistance with paternity testing, assistance with discovery, and teleconferenced hearings. State's CSS agencies have the option of honoring requests for other types of limited services. The receiving jurisdiction does not open a case.
UIFSA provides for enforcement through extradition of the obligor from another state. However, this enforcement procedure should be considered as one of the last resorts for interstate enforcement. The governor of one state might request that the governor of another state extradite an individual who is criminally charged with failure to provide support. Before an extradition request is made, the governor might ask a prosecutor to show that a UIFSA or similar proceeding has been initiated at least sixty (60) days prior or that such a proceeding would be to no avail.
Any CSS case that is being considered for extradition must be discussed with the local district attorney's office since that office is responsible for making the extradition request through the North Carolina Governor's Office.
For questions or clarification on any of the policy contained in these manuals, please contact your local county office.