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How Do I Get Child Support If I Don’t Know Where The Father Lives?

How Do I Get Child Support If I Don't Know Where The Father Lives?

If you need to get child support set up and you don’t know where the other parent lives, call us and we can help you get started. While Utah recognizes the need for both parents to provide support to their children, other countries may not honor the child support orders that originate from Utah. Having a spouse who lives outside the country can make it more difficult to collect child support, there may be options available to the custodial parent.

Foreign Reciprocating Countries

The United States has pre-existing agreements with 26 foreign countries and provinces regarding the payment and receipt of child support when one parent lives in the United States and the other lives in another country. Being a reciprocating country usually requires that the country has established independent procedures for child support and following certain other requirements.

An international child support case in which a foreign reciprocating country is involved usually begins when a claim for child support is filed with the local child support office. A designated agency in the foreign reciprocating country where the noncustodial parent is located is usually responsible for enforcing child support by following the independent procedures established by that country.


The international Hague treaty for child support also requires countries that ratified the treaty to follow its mandate. Additional treaties may require additional duties on the part of ratifying countries.

State Agreements

In addition to the federal agreements noted above, individual states may have agreements with individual countries in relation to foreign child support. Typically, a person who wants to collect child support from a parent in a foreign country will talk to his or her local child support office or independent attorney. By providing information about the noncustodial parent’s location and address, the support agency can better determine the options available.

State Employers

One option may be to pursue a wage garnishment if the noncustodial parent’s employer is an American company or has offices in the United States.

Armed Forces

Frequently soldiers are deployed overseas when they are part of the armed forces. If the noncustodial parent is military personnel, the case is handled in a manner similar to how it is handled when the parent lives in another state, rather than another country.

No Agreement

Noncustodial the establishment of a reciprocating agreement or other characteristics described above, a custodial parent may try other enforcement options. He or she may attempt to obtain a child support order from that parent in the country where the other parent is located. A custodial parent may attempt to learn more about the laws in the jurisdiction where the noncustodial parent lives or to hire an attorney in that jurisdiction who is more familiar with these laws. The local tribunal will likely be the only one that has proper jurisdiction – the right to hear the case.

Passport Denial

In an attempt to prevent parents from skipping out on their child support obligations that have accumulated in the United States, a noncustodial parent’s passport application may be denied and any passports that have already been approved may be revoked if the parent owes $4,000 or more in child support.


Parents who need to collect interstate child support are protected under the UIFSA. Adopted by all 50 U.S. states, the law was established to help families resolve interstate child support issues fairly. Often, this requires the courts to merge multiple support orders into one, enforceable order.

Terms You Need to Know

First, it’s important to understanding the terminology that applies to your case, including:

• Originating state: Generally, the state that originally issued the child support order will remain the state with “continuing jurisdiction” as long as both parents to continue to reside there or agree to transfer the child support order to another state.

• Current residency: If a child support obligor (the parent who owes child support) moves or transfers the child support case, UIFSA gives the “originating state” the power to send a withholding notice, directly to that new state. The withholding order will specify the duration of child support along with the amount and the frequency, as well as any amount to be paid in arrears, health insurance provisions, or other payment specifications.

In other words, the state that issued the original order retains the legal right to uphold that order even if the parent paying child support moves out of state.

Modification of a Child Support Order

Only the state with “continuing jurisdiction” has the power to modify a child support order. However, there is one exception: if both parents move to a new jurisdiction, then the new state has the power to modify the child support order. If the parents move to two different states, the party seeking a modification should file for a modification in the new state.

Eligibility for Child Support Modification

Paternity & Interstate Child Support. Paternity must be established prior to the enforcement of a new child support order.3 If paternity has yet to be established, the parent should order a paternity test to determine whether or not child support is required.

Generally speaking, courts will not hold someone responsible for child support unless he or she is biologically related to the child. (The only exception here is a rare situation known as “the presumption of paternity,” where a man can be held financially responsible for a child conceived while he was married to the mother, whether that child is biologically his or not.)

It can be more difficult to prove paternity after either parent relocates to another state, but it is not impossible.

If you wish to file for child support, you should do so in the state where you and your child currently reside. Officials in your state will work with the child support agency in the state where your ex resides to perform paternity testing and establish an enforceable child support order.

Custody Issues When One Parent Is Not a Citizen

Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws and how they may affect a case.

Can you avoid child support by moving to another country?

In some situations, a parent may move to another country to intentionally avoid his or her obligation to pay child support. However, the embassy may be able to refer the parent to a local investigator who may be able to locate the other parent.

Can a man avoid child support?

One way in which child support can be legally avoided is if both parents reach a settlement agreement were child support is refused. There may be many reasons why child support would be avoided in a divorce agreement. Most of the time, it’s because a noncustodial person has a smaller salary than the custodial parent.

How do I file for child support if the father lives in another country?

Typically, a person who wants to collect child support from a parent in a foreign country will talk to his or her local child support office or independent attorney. By providing information about the noncustodial parent’s location and address, the support agency can better determine the options available.

Will child support affect my immigration case?

An order for child support generally will not affect permanent residence. However, non-payment of such will affect both his permanent residence and any subsequent application for naturalization.

Can I go on a cruise if I owe child support?

By law, American citizens cannot obtain a passport if they owe $2500 or more in back child support. Please be aware that a passport is not required for closed-loop cruises. A closed-loop cruise is one that begins and ends in the same U.S. port city.

Will I get a stimulus check if I owe child support?

Even if you owed back taxes or some other type of government debt, you were still due stimulus money. When Congress wrote the second bill, it even specified that those owing money to a debt collector or in back child support were still eligible for a stimulus payment.

Why can’t you get a passport if you owe child support?

A program known as Passport Denial prevents someone who is otherwise eligible for a U.S. passport from getting a passport if they owe more than $2,500 in child support. Thus, even if you have become a U.S. citizen, you will not be able to get a passport if you have child support arrears beyond the threshold amount.

Can back child support stop you from getting passport?

However, if you owe back child support, you may not be able to obtain a U.S. passport until you pay off your child support arrears. According to the U.S. Department of State, “If you owe $2,500 or more in child support, you are not eligible to receive a U.S. passport.”

Can child support debt be forgiven?

Child support back pay cannot be totally forgiven or waived, but there are a few situations that can help you handle it. Double-check the amount the court states you are in arrears. If your child lived with you for a period that the back pay is referencing, the judge may lessen the child support amount.

How Do I Find a Parent For Child Support?

If you’re a single parent with full custody of your children, then you’re likely entitled to child support payments from the noncustodial parent. These payments, which are usually made on a monthly basis, are based on the child’s needs and the parent’s income. But you may have to locate a parent first in order to enforce a child support order, especially if they’ve attempted to avoid the financial responsibility of raising children (often referred to as a “deadbeat parent”).

Regardless of your state’s laws, the best way to find an elusive noncustodial parent is to gather as much personally identifying information as possible. If the parent is a former spouse, some of this information may be easier to find. The following types of information may help state authorities or caseworkers find an otherwise unresponsive parent:

• Social Security Number
• Names of the noncustodial parent’s friends, employers, coworkers, or family members who may have relevant information
• Copy of the order for child support
• Child’s birth certificate
• Addresses of past and/or present workplaces or residences

Additionally, the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS) maintained by the Office of Child Support Enforcement (a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services) assists state child support programs by collecting data from various sources. State agencies use data compiled through the FPLS to establish paternity and find deadbeat parents.

Finding a Deadbeat Parent

Child support enforcement is handled at the state level, and often uses tools such as wage garnishments and the withholding of state benefits to enforce orders. But different states have different ways to help custodial parents find noncustodial parents who are evading payment.
One popular method is to put the names and pictures of deadbeat parents, along with the amount owed, on billboards or websites. But while states have several different enforcement procedures, they are all meant as incentives and are not necessarily effective at finding deadbeats who are on the run or in hiding.

How to Find a Parent for Child Support in another State?

States have jurisdiction and the resources to track down deadbeat parents who live in the same state as the custodial parents. However, it’s much more difficult to enforce a child support order when the noncustodial parent crosses state lines, even if court orders are issued. While the federal Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act requires states to enforce valid child support orders from other states, actual enforcement is another matter. Often, the deadbeat parent is able to elude authorities until they’re stopped by police (a routine traffic stop, for instance) and checked for outstanding warrants. Some delinquent noncustodial parents work for cash in order to avoid wage garnishment, regardless of which state they are in. In practice, custodial parents who are unable to find an out-of-state deadbeat parent usually must either do the investigative work themselves or hire a private investigator (PI). Some PIs are licensed to operate in more than one state. Also, you may be able to recover the cost of hiring a PI from the noncustodial parent.

Free Initial Consultation

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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