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Child Support Magic, or What Can UIFSA Do For You?

There are a number of international and national conventions and treaties our firm routinely deals with including the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which is the cornerstone of measures to take when a child has been abducted and should be returned to his or her country of habitual residence; the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters of 15 November 1965, which is a convention that dictates how to perfect Service of Process abroad, and many others.

However, today I want to talk to you about The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) which is magic in my opinion. UIFSA is a uniform act drafted and implemented in the United States by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws to define which state or country has jurisdiction to establish, modify and enforce child support in cases where more than one state or country is involved. UIFSA also defines procedures related to the establishment, modification and enforcement of child support and the power of the courts to do so as family law and child support related rules are otherwise different in different states.

Every state in the United States has adopted UIFSA. UIFSA rules are constantly being revised and updated to ensure that the United States is on the right track to implement the regulations necessary to comply with its international obligations on the enforcement of child support.

One of the magical things about UIFSA is that its provides for additional opportunities to obtain jurisdiction to establish or enforce child support and grant relief to many people for whom filing for child support outside of the state of their residency might not be possible due to financial or other reasons.

The general jurisdictional rule in the state of Georgia is that we have to file to establish child support in the state where the defendant/payer of the child support resides. However, UIFSA (O.C.G.A. § 19-11-110) permits many more reasons to file in Georgia if:

(1) The individual is personally served with process within Georgia;

(2) The individual submits to the jurisdiction of Georgia by consent, by entering a general appearance, or by filing a responsive document having the effect of waiving any contest to personal jurisdiction;

(3) The individual resided with the child in Georgia;

(4) The individual resided in Georgia and provided prenatal expenses or support for the child;

(5) The child resides in Georgia as a result of the acts or directives of the individual;

(6) The individual engaged in sexual intercourse in Georgia and the child may have been conceived by that act of intercourse;

(7) The individual asserted parentage of a child in the putative father registry maintained in this state by the Department of Human Services; or

(8) There is any other basis consistent with the Constitutions of Georgia and the United States for the exercise of personal jurisdiction.

For example, we were able to help many clients establish child support in Georgia even though the other parent of the child never lived or had been in Georgia, or had lived in Georgia long time ago while providing money to the child or covering pregnancy expenses. Interestingly, UIFSA allows jurisdiction even if an individual engaged in sexual intercourse in Georgia and the child may have been conceived by that act of intercourse. Of course, this applies to one-night stands when this may be the only opportunity to get jurisdiction in Georgia.

Once child support is established, we can guide you to channels that could allow you to domesticate, enforce and collect upon that child support order.

UIFSA shows that where there is a will, there is often a way.

Dina Khismatulina

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