U.S. Code > Title 28 > Part V > Chapter 115 > § 1738A - Full faith and credit given to child custody determinations
Current as of: February 2010
(a) General Rule. - The appropriate authorities of each State -
(1) shall enforce according to its terms a child support order
made consistently with this section by a court of another State;
(2) shall not seek or make a modification of such an order
except in accordance with subsections (e), (f), and (i).
(b) Definitions. - In this section:
"child" means -
(A) a person 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
"child's State" means the State in which a child resides.
"child's home State" means the State in which a child lived
with a parent or a person acting as parent for at least 6
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.
"child support" means a payment of money, continuing support,
or arrearages or the provision of a benefit (including payment of
health insurance, child care, and educational expenses) for the
support of a child.
"child support order" -
(A) means a judgment, decree, or order of a court requiring
the payment of child support in periodic amounts or in a lump
(B) includes -
(i) a permanent or temporary order; and
(ii) an initial order or a modification of an order.
"contestant" means -
(A) a person (including a parent) who -
(i) claims a right to receive child support;
(ii) is a party to a proceeding that may result in the
issuance of a child support order; or
(iii) is under a child support order; and
(B) a State or political subdivision of a State to which the
right to obtain child support has been assigned.
"court" means a court or administrative agency of a State that
is authorized by State law to establish the amount of child
support payable by a contestant or make a modification of a child
"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.
"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 section 1151 of title 18).
(c) Requirements of Child Support Orders. - A child support order
made by a court of a State is made consistently with this section
(1) a court that makes the order, pursuant to the laws of the
State in which the court is located and subsections (e), (f), and
(A) has subject matter jurisdiction to hear the matter and
enter such an order; and
(B) has personal jurisdiction over the contestants; and
(2) reasonable notice and opportunity to be heard is given to
(d) Continuing Jurisdiction. - A court of a State that has made a
child support order consistently with this section has continuing,
exclusive jurisdiction over the order if the State is the child's
State or the residence of any individual contestant unless the
court of another State, acting in accordance with subsections (e)
and (f), has made a modification of the order.
(e) Authority To Modify Orders. - A court of a State may modify a
child support order issued by a court of another State if -
(1) the court has jurisdiction to make such a child support
order pursuant to subsection (i); and
(2)(A) the court of the other State no longer has continuing,
exclusive jurisdiction of the child support order because that
State no longer is the child's State or the residence of any
individual contestant; or
(B) each individual contestant has filed written consent with
the State of continuing, exclusive jurisdiction for a court of
another State to modify the order and assume continuing,
exclusive jurisdiction over the order.
(f) Recognition of Child Support Orders. - If 1 or more child
support orders have been issued with regard to an obligor and a
child, a court shall apply the following rules in determining which
order to recognize for purposes of continuing, exclusive
jurisdiction and enforcement:
(1) If only 1 court has issued a child support order, the order
of that court must be recognized.
(2) If 2 or more courts have issued child support orders for
the same obligor and child, and only 1 of the courts would have
continuing, exclusive jurisdiction under this section, the order
of that court must be recognized.
(3) If 2 or more courts have issued child support orders for
the same obligor and child, and more than 1 of the courts would
have continuing, exclusive jurisdiction under this section, an
order issued by a court in the current home State of the child
must be recognized, but if an order has not been issued in the
current home State of the child, the order most recently issued
must be recognized.
(4) If 2 or more courts have issued child support orders for
the same obligor and child, and none of the courts would have
continuing, exclusive jurisdiction under this section, a court
having jurisdiction over the parties shall issue a child support
order, which must be recognized.
(5) The court that has issued an order recognized under this
subsection is the court having continuing, exclusive jurisdiction
under subsection (d).
(g) Enforcement of Modified Orders. - A court of a State that no
longer has continuing, exclusive jurisdiction of a child support
order may enforce the order with respect to nonmodifiable
obligations and unsatisfied obligations that accrued before the
date on which a modification of the order is made under subsections
(e) and (f).
(h) Choice of Law. -
(1) In general. - In a proceeding to establish, modify, or
enforce a child support order, the forum State's law shall apply
except as provided in paragraphs (2) and (3).
(2) Law of state of issuance of order. - In interpreting a
child support order including the duration of current payments
and other obligations of support, a court shall apply the law of
the State of the court that issued the order.
(3) Period of limitation. - In an action to enforce arrears
under a child support order, a court shall apply the statute of
limitation of the forum State or the State of the court that
issued the order, whichever statute provides the longer period of
(i) Registration for Modification. - If there is no individual
contestant or child residing in the issuing State, the party or
support enforcement agency seeking to modify, or to modify and
enforce, a child support order issued in another State shall
register that order in a State with jurisdiction over the nonmovant
for the purpose of modification.
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