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How can I get an out-of-state order for child support transferred to Pennsylvania?

  1. Is Pennsylvania the proper venue to handle the case?

The first step in trying transfer a child support case to Pennsylvania is determining whether Pennsylvania is the proper venue (i.e. the right place) for your case. That involves figuring out where the parties (the plaintiff, who filed the case, or the defendant, who is paying child support) currently live, as well as where the current child support order was entered.

At least one of the parties or the child must live in Pennsylvania in order for you to transfer the child support case to Pennsylvania. If both parties now live in Pennsylvania, then Pennsylvania is definitely the proper venue.

If one party still lives in the state where the current child support was entered, then that state will retain its jurisdiction over the case and the order can only be modified by that state. The order can still be registered in Pennsylvania to have the order enforced in Pennsylvania, but Pennsylvania cannot change the order.

If one party lives in Pennsylvania and the other party has moved to another state, other than the state where the order was entered, then your case could be transferred to either Pennsylvania or that other state. Generally speaking, whoever files first will get their choice, but that does vary depending on the states involved. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s advisable to contact an attorney to help you determine your options.

  1. Example

For example, let’s pretend that Plaintiff Patty and Defendant Derek have a child together and live in Montana. Patty files for child support in Montana, and an order is entered requiring Derek to pay child support. Derek moves to Pennsylvania, but Patty still lives in Montana with the child. Even though Derek has moved, the case will stay in Montana because Patty and the child still live there. However, if Patty then moves to New York, then the child support case can be transferred to either Pennsylvania or New York. The parties no longer live in Montana, so it doesn’t make sense to keep the case there anymore. Either Derek can file to transfer the case to Pennsylvania, or Patty can file to transfer the case to New York.

If both Derek and Patty move to Pennsylvania, then Pennsylvania is obviously the appropriate place to transfer the case.

  1. How do I register an order in my county?

The next step, once you are sure that Pennsylvania is the proper place to transfer your child support order, is to determine your county’s procedures for registering a child support order. Every county will require your child support order to be registered in that county, and each county will require documents from the state that issued your order. However, the county requirements for which records you need, how many copies you need, what sort of ID you need, and how to request registration of the order vary widely. You can call your county’s Domestic Relations office to inquire about their requirements, or you can seek representation to help you navigate this process.

  1. Can I request changes to the order after it’s been registered in Pennsylvania?

Except in cases where one party still lives in the state which issued the child support order (e.g. if the plaintiff still lives in Oklahoma, and the current order was issued in Oklahoma), once the order is registered in Pennsylvania, you can file to modify the order, terminate it, or enforce it, just like a child support order that was originally issued in Pennsylvania.