Interstate Cases

Interstate Case Processing

Interstate cases present a whole array of difficulties, though much has been done in recent years to improve the process. It is important for plaintiffs to understand that neither Westmoreland County nor the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have any authority over any other state.

Long-Arm Processing

Whenever possible, the DRS will attempt to acquire personal jurisdiction over a defendant residing in another state. It has the effect of keeping the case local. It is simpler and faster, because we are dealing with local law, and is more predictable than involving another state. The resulting local order is enforceable by direct income withholding on an out-of-state employer. Also, the order cannot be modified in another state.

In order to acquire personal jurisdiction over a non-resident noncustodial parent (NCP), one of the following circumstances must exist:
  • Personal service of the NCP within Pennsylvania
  • Submission to jurisdiction by consent of the NCP
  • The NCP had lived with the child in Pennsylvania
  • The NCP had lived in Pennsylvania and provided prenatal expenses or support for the child
  • The child is living in Pennsylvania due to directives or acts, which could include domestic violence, of the NCP
  • The NCP had sexual intercourse in Pennsylvania, possibly resulting in the conception of the child
  • The NCP signed Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity in Pennsylvania
  • Other basis for personal jurisdiction consistent with the constitutions of Pennsylvania and the United States
Even if any of the above circumstances exist, all due process requirements must be met, including service of process - legal notice of the action against defendant. This is so that the defendant is aware of the action and has an opportunity to be heard.

This can be a simple or extremely difficult procedure, depending upon the ability of the other state to assist in the service of process.