Full Faith and Credit

Although there is a full faith and credit clause in the United States Constitution, 28 U.S.C. 1738, it was not clear that one state’s child support order is enforceable by another state. And even after UIFSA was enacted, parties continued to jump from state to state to try to pay less child support or avoid paying child support.

So Congress enacted the Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act (“FFCCSOA), 28 U.S.C. 1738B. The law requires that all states territories give full faith and credit to child support orders of sister states as long as the sister state properly exercised jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter.

UIFSA-Interstate Child Support Law

All states were required to adopt the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (“UIFSA”) when President Clinton signed the Welfare Reform Act on August 22, 1996.

UIFSA replaced URESA and RURESA . The old statutes allowed a parent to move to another state and have the new state reduce his or her child support. UIFSA provides that the state where the original divorce was obtained will have continuing exclusive jurisdiction over child support.

If both parents leave the original state of divorce, and you are a father seeking modification of child support, you must go to the mother’s state to ask the court for modification, and vice versa.

Wage Withholding Orders

There is a standard form for wage withholding orders that are sent to employers for child support obligations. It is called an Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support.

It is a federal form adopted by Section 324 of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996; 42 U.S.C. 652(a)(11) and 654(9)(E).

You can download the form for free:

  • here in PDF format
  • here in Word 95 format

Instructions are here in PDF format.

Hague Convention Defenses

These are the defenses that your spouse can raise under the Hague Convention:

Custody Rights Defenses

  • You did not have custody rights.
  • You were not actually exercising your custody rights at the time of removal.

Wrongful Removal or Retention Defenses

  • You agreed to the removal.
  • You acquiesced later to the removal.

    Defenses Related to Child

    • The Grave Risk Defense. There is a grave risk that his or her return would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or other place the child in an intolerable situation.
    • The child objects and has attained an appropriate age and maturity.
    • The child has been integrated into his community and environment for over a year.

    Returning the Children

    If your children have been abducted unlawfully from the U.S. to another country that has signed the Hague Convention, you file two originals of an Application for each child with the State Department or the central authority of the other country. Here are the instructions. Be sure to sign and date the applications.

    Fax your completed Hague application to CA/OCS/CI, fax number 202-736-9133. Send originals and supporting documents by mail, express mail, or courier service to:

    Department of State

    Office of Children’s Issues, SA-29

    U.S. Department of State

    2201 C Street, NW

    Washington, DC 20520

    The State Department will then transmit the Application to the central authority of the country where the child is believed to be. The central authority of that country is to take all appropriate measures to obtain the voluntary return of the child.

    The courts and administrative agencies are required to act expeditiously in proceedings for return of the child.

    The One Year Rule

    • If it has been less than one year since the abduction, the authority shall order the child returned forthwith.
    • If it has been more than one year, the authority shall order the child returned, unless it is demonstrated that the child is now settled in the new environment.

    Therefore, file your action within one year to eliminate the second option. You must file a lawsuit action within the year, not just your application. In retention cases, the year starts when the child is unlawfully detained. So if you gave your spouse permission to take the children to visit her parents in Spain for a month, and she does not return, the year starts at the end of the month.

    Next: Defenses to Returning the Children

    Enforcing the Hague Convention

    Central Authority. Each country creates a central authority to enforce the Hague Convention. The State Department is the central authority in the United States. Central authorities are to cooperate with each other to secure in the prompt return of children, and in particular to:

    • discover the whereabouts of an abducted child.
    • take provisional measures to prevent further harm to the child or prejudice to the interest parties.
    • secure a voluntary return of the child or amicable resolution.
    • exchange information about the child.
    • provide legal information.
    • take legal action to return the child and organize or secure access.
    • provide legal aid in advice, including legal counsel and advisers.
    • provide administrative arrangements to return the child.
    • keep each other informed and eliminate obstacles to application of the Convention.

    Next: How to Get Your Child Back

    The Hague Convention

    International Abductions. If your child has been abducted abroad, you will likely turn to The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, adopted by the United States and 59 other countries.

    Objectives. The objectives of the Hague Convention are to (a) secure the prompt return of children wrongfully removed to or retained in a country, and (b) ensure the rights of custody and access under the laws of a country are respected in another country.

    Age. The Convention applies to children under the age of 16.

    Wrongful Removal or Retention. A removal or rentention is wrongful when (a) it is a breach of sole or joint custody under the laws of the country where the child lived before being abducted, and (b) custody rights were actually exercised or would have been if the child had not been abducted. Custody may be by agreement but does not have to be. It can also be by operation of law. Under US state laws, parents have joint custody until and unless a court rules otherwise.

    Next Blog: Enforcement of The Hague Convention

    Interstate and International Cases

    Over a third of all cases involve children across state or international borders. It is one of the most confusing and complex areas in fathers’ rights cases. I will try to bring good order and make some sense of it.

    These cases are governed by the following federal laws, uniform laws adopted by states, and The Hague Convention adopted by certain countries.

    Interstate Child Abduction

    PKPA (Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1996)

    UCCJA (Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act of 1968)

    UCCJEA (Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act 0f 1997)

    International Child Abduction

    The Hague Convention

    ICARA (International Child Abduction Remedies Act of 1988)

    Child Support

    UIFSA (Uniform Interstate Family Support Act of 1996)

    FFCCSOA (Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act of 1994)

    I will explain each of these laws in the next few blogs.

    Why I Started This Blog

    My second book has just been released, entitled “Fathers’ Rights (A Legal Guide to Protecting the Best Interests of Your Children)” by Sphinx Publishing.

    There is much demand for information out there, and little available. The stakes are high, emotions are tense, and confusion abounds.

    So I wrote my book, and I am starting this blog, for the average dad, who is trying to find his way through a child custody case, and do what is best for his kids.

    I will try to explain the law of fathers’ rights, clearly and concisely, in plain language, with a little humor and wisdom thrown in as well. I welcome your questions, comments and suggestions.