Issue: UIFSA Proposed Revisions
Amendments to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) will change the processing of international cases.
In 1992, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL), now known as the Uniform Law Commission (ULC), promulgated the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) to replace the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (URESA). The original version of UIFSA was adopted verbatim by every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, as was required by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-193).
ULC approved a revision of UIFSA in 2001, which included (1) clarification that the jurisdictional rules limit the ability of parties to seek modifications of orders in states other than the issuing state, (2) specificity on how a controlling order is to be determined and reconciled in the event of multiple orders, (3) clarification that the jurisdictional basis for issuance of support orders and child custody jurisdiction are separate, and (4) expands UIFSA to include coverage of support orders from foreign country jurisdictions pursuant to reciprocity and comity principles.
The ULC appointed a drafting committee to consider UIFSA revisions that are needed for the U.S. to be able to comply with the requirements of the new Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance. The drafting committee limited amendments to only those required to comply with the Convention. Articles 1-6 were modified to include foreign support orders when procedures for handling Convention cases would be the same as in current UIFSA procedures for domestic cases. The new Article 7 applies only to international cases and addresses the requirements unique to the Convention, e.g., reasons to refuse recognition of a foreign support order.
The 2008 amendments were approved at the ULC 2008 Annual Meeting on 7/24/08.
Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced the Strengthen and Vitalize Enforcement of Child Support (SAVE Child Support) Act (S. 3848) on 9/28/10, S. 1383 on 7/19/11, and S. 508 for a third time on 3/14/13. One provision of the measure was to require that each state adopt the 2008 UIFSA amendments. On 3/28/12, Representatives Rick Berg (R-ND) and Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) introduced HR 4282, the International Child Support Recovery Improvement Act of 2012, which would require states to adopt the 2008 UIFSA amendments verbatim. On 6/5/12, the House approved HR 4282 by a voice vote under suspension of the rules.
On 5/9/13, House Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee Chairman Dave Reichert (R-WA) introduced the International Child Support Recovery Improvement Act of 2013 (H.R. 1896). This bi-partisan legislation mirrors legislation that was unanimously passed by the House in the 112th Congress. On 6/18/13, on a motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, the House approved HR 1896 by a vote of 394 to 27.
On 12/19/13, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) introduced the Supporting At-Risk Children Act (S. 1870) and the Child Support Improvement and Work Promotion Act (S. 1877). S. 1877 included language to implement the Convention, including the requirement for states to adopt the 2008 UIFSA amendments. S. 1870 included the language of S. 1877, as well as child welfare-related provisions. The Senate Finance Committee marked-up S. 1870 on 12/19/13 and reported it favorably by a voice vote.
On 6/26/14, the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee leadership announced bi-partisan agreement on a new bill, Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (H.R. 4980). This legislation reflected agreements reached between the House and Senate negotiators, reconciling differences on three bills previously approved by the House (H.R. 1896, H.R. 3205, and H.R. 4058) and the Senate Finance Committee (S. 1876, S. 1877, and S. 1878). The legislation included numerous provisions, including requiring every state to adopt the 2008 UIFSA amendments. On 9/29/14, the President signed H.R. 4980 making it P.L. 113-183. As of April 2016, all 53 jurisdictions have enacted the 2008 UIFSA amendments. On 6/2/16, the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) issued an Information Memorandum (IM-16-02) to provide states with a technical assistance resource, 2008 Revisions to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.