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Enforcement of child support orders from other states

California draws many of its residents from other states. Many people who move into the state are divorced and are receiving or are paying child support. A common question is how a person who got divorced in one state and then moves to California can enforce a child support order. A related question is how can a person who lives in California enforce a support order that was obtained in a different state.

To answer these questions, the California legislature passed the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act. This law establishes procedures for enforcing support orders that have been entered by courts in other states. The law is intended to create simple and uniform procedures for enforcing or modifying orders concerning child support or parentage.

Under the law, California courts have jurisdiction over a non-resident individual if that person is personally served notice of an enforcement proceeding within California or consents to the jurisdiction of California's courts. A person may also be subject to the jurisdiction of California courts if the person has resided in California and has either lived the child or provided parental expenses or support for the child. Other grounds upon which jurisdiction may be established in California is the possibility that the child was conceived in California. Once jurisdiction under the statute has been established, the California court may take any action regarding child support that it might have taken if the divorce had been filed in California, including enforcement of any orders regarding child support that have been entered by a court of proper jurisdiction in another state.

The Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act does not create any substantive rights. Rather, it provides a means for establishing jurisdiction so that courts in the state can enforce the laws that apply to the case, regardless of whether the laws were enacted in California or elsewhere. Anyone who is receiving child support from or who owes child support to a person in another state may wish to consult a California family attorney for advice on whether and how the Act may be invoked.

Source: FindLaw, California Family Code Secs. 4900 et seq., accessed on May 1, 2017

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