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Jurisdiction over child support modification requests

Noncustodial parents in California who feel that they paying too much in child support will often choose to file a motion to modify an existing order. However, there are a few hurdles to overcome prior to getting the motion granted. First, there must be a significant change in circumstances such as a job loss or some other adverse financial change that would make it difficult to make the payments.

Second, the parent must be sure that the state where the motion is filed has jurisdiction. To help parents and courts alike answer that question, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act addresses the jurisdiction issue. It has been adopted in every state, and New Jersey case law has helped further settle the question in that state. A court in that state ruled that if a court in the child's home state issues a ruling, that ruling controls the matter.

However, if no ruling has been made in the child's home state, the state where the last ruling was issued will generally take precedence. In addition, the court ruled that a state may only claim jurisdiction in the matter if the child or one of the child's parents lived in that state. This was an important distinction as various states have various child support laws that could be abused if parents were allowed to choose where cases were heard.

While some noncustodial parents simply refuse to comply with child support orders, many are legitimately unable to meet their obligations due to an unforeseen financial downturn. In such cases, the assistance of a family law attorney can be helpful in attempting to obtain a modification.

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