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Parents who pay child support and live in another state or country

Learn how to get and enforce a child support order if the other parent lives in another state or country.

Get a child support order if the other parent doesn't live in Massachusetts

Child support agencies in different states are required to help each other establish and enforce child support orders. There are also agreements with many foreign countries to help us as well.

There are 2 ways to get child support when the other parent doesn't live in Massachusetts:

  • If the parent has enough contact with Massachusetts (if the child was conceived here, the parent paying support lived with the child here or sent the child to live here), we may be able to ask a Massachusetts court to order child support payments even though the other parent doesn't live here.
  • If we can't do that, we can ask the child support agency where the other parent lives to help us establish a child support order.

If you were never married to the other parent, we can also help you to establish paternity using either of these methods.

Child support in countries that don’t have an agreement with Massachusetts

If the other parent lives in a country that we don't have an agreement with, you can write to the Office of Citizens Consular Services at the U.S. State Department, Washington, D.C. 20520, for a list of attorneys in that country who may be able to help you.

Timeframe to get an order

We don’t know for sure how long it will take to get an order because it’s up to the other state or country. Cases where the parents don’t live in the same state often take longer than cases where both parents do live in the same state. You can help speed up the process by giving us as much information about the other parent as possible, such as:

  • Full name
  • Full address
  • Social Security number
  • Date of birth
  • Physical description and photograph
  • Employer's name and address
  • Other income and property information
  • Telephone number (including area code)
  • Names of the parents of the other parent
  • Motor vehicle information (year, make, model, registration/license number, and state registration)
  • Any other information you have that will help us locate the other parent

Giving us copies of any divorce orders, separation papers, restraining orders, birth certificates for the children or other related documents, also helps move the process along.

If you already have a court order but need it enforced

If we know where the other parent works, we can take the money directly from the other parent’s paycheck.

If we don’t know whether the other parent works, we can try to enforce the order in other ways (such as, taking action against any property), or we can ask the state or country where the other parent lives to help us.

How to request our help

You can apply for our services online or complete and send a paper application to us.

Locating a parent who has moved out of Massachusetts

  • We have access to many tools which can help us locate a parent who has left Massachusetts. The more information you have about the parent, the better our chances are of finding the parent. We can also ask other states and countries to help us.
    There are agreements with many foreign countries to help us find parents and establish and enforce child support orders.
  • If the other parent lives in a country where there is no agreement, you can write to the Office of Citizens Consular Services at the U.S. State Department, Washington, D.C. 20520, for a list of attorneys in that country.

Changing the amount of your child support order

If you think the amount of the order should change because either your or the other parent’s income has increased or decreased or the needs of your child have changed, you can ask us to review your order.

If you want us to review your order, call our customer service center at (800) 332-2733 or (617) 660-1234.

We will review your case to see if we think it would be appropriate to ask the court to modify the order. We will also figure out whether a request to change the order must be filed in a Massachusetts court or in a court in the state where the other parent lives. If the case has to go to a court in the other state, we will ask the other state to review the order.

 

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