Stemming the Modification of Child-Support Orders by Responding Courts: A Proposal to Amend RURESA’s Antisupersession Clause

This Note examines the practice of using the Act to modify existing child-support orders. Part I explores the question of whether the Act’s enforcement mechanisms were designed to permit the responding court to modify existing support orders. It emphasizes the problems involved with concurrent support orders and modification and describes the range of positions courts have taken to support or oppose allowing responding courts to modify support orders. Part II explores the federal child-support enforcement programs, their interstate applications, and their relationship to the Act’s enforcement mechanisms. The analysis in these parts leads to Part III, which proposes an amendment to the Act to clarify its function. This amendment encourages use of the civil registration procedure where there is a prior support order to avoid inconsistent support orders. It also restricts the ability of responding courts in civil enforcement actions to enter orders for amounts that differ from the original order to prevent the problems of concurrent support orders. This Part of the Note also points out alternative means, such as long-arm statutes and the automatic periodic review of child-support orders by the entering court, that might be utilized more fruitfully to modify support orders.