Where your child support matter is decided can make a difference

Child support modification can be complicated, if the other parent does not agree to your proposal to raise or lower the amount of the payments. When the parents live in different states, the matter can be even more confusing. Which state’s courts have jurisdiction, or the legal power to change the child support order?

State law may provide some guidance. The state honors out-of-state child support orders in all but limited circumstances. The law does allow Massachusetts courts to modify an order from another state in two cases.

In one situation, neither the child nor either parent currently resides in the issuing state, the petitioner is a nonresident of Massachusetts and the respondent is subject to the personal jurisdiction of the court, most likely by being a resident. In the other scenario, one of the parties is subject to a Massachusetts court and the parties each consent in writing to let that court modify the order. This is only necessary if the other state’s methods for claiming jurisdiction are not “substantially similar.”

One reason to do this is for the sake of convenience. It is usually easier to litigate a motion to modify a child support order at a local courthouse, rather than in some faraway state. It is also possible that the laws in Massachusetts favor your argument more than in the old state.

Whether or not this is the case could depend on each person’s circumstances, and can best be explained by asking a family law attorney in person.


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