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Jurisdiction issues in child support modifications

Child support orders issued in New Jersey are subject to potential modification when a change in circumstances occurs. A common change in circumstances prompting a petition for modification of a child support order is a change in the financial situation of a parent, particularly the parent who is paying child support.

If both parents and the child still live in the state where the original child support order was issued, jurisdiction over the case remains with that state. However, in many cases, one or both parents and the child may live in different states than the state that issued the original order. Because state laws differ regarding child support modifications and payment amounts, a party seeking modification of an order must know where to file the petition for modification.

The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, which has been adopted by all 50 states, is designed to clarify the issue of jurisdiction in these cases. The act provides that any state where the child or either parent lives has jurisdiction over the case. However, if any of the parties live in different states, then the state where the child lives has jurisdiction over the case and the petition should be filed in that state. One exception to this rule is that if no order has been issued in the child's home state, then the state where the latest order in the case has been issued has jurisdiction.

Knowing the right state in which to file a petition for modification of child support is essential. An individual who is seeking a modification may want to speak to a lawyer with experience in child support cases. The lawyer may be able to apply the provisions of the law and determine where to request the order modification.

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