CS 200P Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders

10/96 Revised 08/18/08

P.L. 103-383, 18 U.S.C. 1151 and 28 U.S.C. 1738B

Federal law at 28 U.S.C. sec.1738B dated October 20, 1994, requires courts of all United States territories, states, and tribes to “… enforce according to its terms a child support order made consistently with this section by a court of another State; and shall not seek or make a modification of such an order except in accordance with subsections (e), (f), and (i) . . .” of the Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act (FFCCSOA).

If a state, tribal court, or administrative agency issues an order that is consistent with FFCCSOA, the order must be recognized and enforced by other states and tribes.




Definitions according to Federal law at 28 U.S.C. sec.1738B are as follows:


1.                  “Child means a person:

a.                   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.”


2.                  “Child’s state means the State in which the child resides.”


3.                  “Child’s home state means the Sate in which a child lived with a parent or a person acting as parent for at least six 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.”


4.                  “Child support means a payment of money, continuing support, or arrearage or the provision of a benefit (including payment of health insurance, child care, and educational expenses) for the support of a child.”


5.                  “Child support order means a judgment, decree, or order of a court requiring the payment of child support in periodic amounts or in a lump sum, and includes a permanent or temporary order; and an initial order or a modification of an order.”


6.                  “Contestant means a person (including a parent) who claims a right to receive child support; is a party to a proceeding that may result in the issuance of a child support order; or, is under a child support order; and a State or political subdivision of a state to which the right to obtain child support has been assigned.”  For example, the Office of Recovery Services/Child Support Services (ORS/CSS).


1.                  “Court a means a court or administrative agency of a state or a tribe that is authorized by state or tribal law to establish the amount of child support payable by a contestant or make a modification of a child support order.”


2.                  “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.”


3.                  “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 18 U.S.C. 1151).”


Child Support Order Requirements


A child support order issued by a court of a state (see definition of state above) pursuant with 28 U.S.C. 1738B must be given full faith and credit if:


1.                  the court (see definition of court, above) issuing the order, pursuant to the laws of the state in which the court is located, has:

a.                   subject matter jurisdiction to hear the matter and enter an order;  and,

b.                  has personal jurisdiction over the contestants (see definition of contestants above); and,


2.                  the contestants are given reasonable notice and an opportunity to be heard.


Continuing Exclusive Jurisdiction


A state or tribe has continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over an order issued by a court of that state or tribe as long as:


1.                  that state or tribe remains the “child’s home state”; or,


2.                  the residence of any individual contestant; and,


3.                  a court of another state or tribe, acting in accordance with 28 U.S.C. 1738B (e & f) has not made a modification of the order. 


Recognition of Child Support Orders


If one or more child support orders have been issued for a non-custodial parent (NCP) and a child, a court shall apply the following rules shall in determining which order to recognize for purposes of CEJ and enforcement.


1.                  One order - If only one court has issued a child support order, the order of that court must be recognized.


2.                  Two or more orders – If two or more courts have issued child support orders for the same NCP and child, you must determine if any of the issuing states have CEJ.

a.                   One CEJ order – Recognize the order of that court.

b.                  Two or more CEJ orders – Determine if any of the states issuing the CEJ order is the home state of the child.

i.                     Home State – Recognize the order of that court.

ii.                   No home state – Recognize the order most recently issued.

c.                   No CEJ order – A court with jurisdiction over the contestants must issue a child support order, which must be recognized.


Authority to Modify Orders


A state or tribe may modify its own order as long as it has CEJ.  Another state or tribal court may modify the order of another state or tribe if it has jurisdiction and the order:


1.                  is registered for the purpose of modification pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1738B (i); and,


2.                  the issuing state no longer has CEJ over the child support order because that state is no longer the child’s state or the residence of any of the individual contestants; or,


3.                  the individual contestants file written consent with the state or tribe issuing the order to have a court in another state modify the order.   


Enforcement of Modified Orders


A state or tribe issuing a child support order that no longer has CEJ, may only enforce the order with respect to the non-modifiable obligations (spousal support, custody, emancipation, etc.) and any unsatisfied arrearage that accrued before the date of the modification.


Choice of Law


In a proceeding to establish, modify, or enforce a child support order, the law of the court/tribunal or tribe applies except in the following areas:


1.                  Law of state issuing order – You must apply the laws of the issuing state or tribe that issued the order when interpreting the order’s obligations, such as the amount and duration of support payments; e.g., current support, spousal support, custody, parent-time, etc. 


2.                  Statute of Limitations – In an action to enforce the arrears under a child support order, you must:

a.                   identify the statute of limitations for the court/tribunal or tribe enforcing the child support order and the state or tribe issuing the order;

b.                  determine which states’ statute of limitation is longest; and,

c.                   apply that state’s statute of limitations to the order for purposes of collecting and enforcing arrearages.  


Registration for Modification


A state or tribe seeking to modify, or modify and enforce, a child support order issued in another state or tribe may modify the order if the child or no one individual resides in the issuing state or Indian country.  The state IV-D agency or a tribal Child Support Enforcement agency must:


1.                  register the order for the purpose of modification;


2.                  have subject matter jurisdiction to hear the matter and enter an order;


3.                  have personal jurisdiction over the contestants; and,


4.                  give the contestants reasonable notice and an opportunity to be heard.