Uniform Interstate Family Support Act
Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)When cases do not meet the criteria for Long-Arm processing, or Long-Arm process was attempted but failed, filing must be to a proper jurisdiction and venue in another state under UIFSA. 23 Pa.C.S. §7311(b)
As a part of federal funding requirements, each state has its own UIFSA statute. UIFSA provides for one order to be in place per case anywhere in the country at a given time. To do that, it also provides for determining which state owns the case, holds hearings, and makes the decisions regarding the case. If you live in Pennsylvania and file a UIFSA complaint (presuming Long-Arm is not an option) against a defendant living in Virginia, the petitions and all required documentation are completed on federally mandated forms and forwarded to Virginia with a request to schedule a hearing and establish a support obligation. Virginia becomes the controlling state. Enforcement and all modifications will take place there. Pennsylvania serves as a facilitator on behalf of the plaintiff. Procedural rules which govern the support process are Virginia’s, not Pennsylvania’s. As parties subsequently move from state to state, control may shift to other states based upon UIFSA principals. Some conditions of the original order, such as age of emancipation, are unchangeable no matter how many different states “own” the order.
On the other hand, if we already have an order in Pennsylvania, and the defendant moves to Virginia and stops paying (if he continued to pay, we would continue to work the case as a local case, following the principle: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”), we can register the order in Virginia for enforcement only. That means Pennsylvania continues to control the order and hold all modification hearings. We can continue to register the order in other states if the defendant is on the move. Plaintiffs need to understand that there can be considerable lag time in getting results in another state. Once the process is begun, it will move forward as quickly as that state’s work load permits. Calling them to complain about how long they are taking has little effect on the movement of the case other than to irritate an already over burdened worker.