11.A Determination of Controlling Order


Appendix 11.A – Determination of Controlling Order

Purpose:

One of the most important concepts of the Uniform Intergovernmental Family Support Act (UIFSA) is “one order.”  UIFSA provides the following guidelines to determine the controlling order (DCO).

When to DCO?

Whenever multiple orders exist in our records for the same non-custodial parent and child, the Wyoming CSE Program will make the initial determination of the controlling order. 


Note:Only a tribunal may make a binding DCO.

 
The Wyoming CSE Program may make a DCO at case initiation, upon receipt of another state’s order, or when adding the order and payments under an order to POSSE; however, the Wyoming CSE Program will request a DCO from the District Court when registering an out-of-state order for enforcement and/or modification and multiple orders exist for the same family unit.

What is a qualified order for DCO?

When reviewing multiple orders for a controlling order determination, the case worker will limit the review to those orders that may qualify for controlling order status.  In order to “qualify,” the child support order shall contain a provision for prospective child support.  The prospective obligation may include a provision for health care coverage.  If the order does not have a medical support or health insurance provision and is determined to be the controlling order, it shall be modified as discussed in 10.6 – Review and Adjustment – Adjustment of Support Order.  

The following are examples of orders that should be considered in a DCO:
  • Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (URESA) orders (intrastate and intergovernmental),
  • Administrative orders,
  • Foster care orders (if still in effect),
  • Protective/abuse orders from District Court, or 
  • $0 support orders.
Examples of orders that should not be included in the DCO are:
  • Any order that does not include current support (e.g. arrears only judgment and order),
  • Intergovernmental income withholding,
  • Registered orders,
  • Recognized orders (e.g. administrative orders for enforcement only),
  • Federal criminal non-support orders,
  • Medical support only orders,
  • Minute orders, and
  • Circuit court orders for support.

Multiple Orders

If at least one of the orders was issued by a state after the effective date of UIFSA for that state (See the Intergovernmental Referral Guide -  for the effective date of UIFSA for each state) and that order does not have language which incorporates prior orders, a subsequent order may not be valid.  Discuss the situation with the District CSE Office Attorney.

DCO Rules 

1) If only one child support order exists, the tribunal has continuing, exclusive jurisdiction (CEJ) as discussed in 11.B – Continuing Exclusive Jurisdiction Rules, and the order controls and will be recognized.  There is no need for a tribunal to adjudicate a DCO until/unless multiple orders are discovered.

2) If two or more child support orders exist for the same non-custodial parent and child(ren), the Wyoming District Court will apply the following rules to determine the controlling order:
    • If only one tribunal has CEJ as defined by UIFSA and in 11.B – Continuing Exclusive Jurisdiction Rules, the order of that tribunal controls and will be recognized.
    • If more than one of the tribunals has CEJ, an order from the child’s home state1 controls; however, if an order has not been issued in the child’s home state, the order most recently issued controls and will be recognized.
    • If none of the tribunals would have CEJ, a new order shall be issued in Wyoming and the new order will control.
3) If two or more child support orders have been issued for the same non-custodial parent and child(ren) and the non-custodial parent or custodial parent resides in Wyoming, upon request of a party, a Wyoming District Court will determine the controlling order.

Final DCO

When a Wyoming District Court determines a controlling order, the order will include the basis of the determination, the amount of prospective support, if any, and the total amount of consolidated arrears and accrued interest, if any, based upon all of the support orders.  See Appendix 11.D – Arrears Calculation to calculate arrears due under multiple child support orders.

Within 30 days of the DCO in a IV-D case, the Wyoming CSE Program will ensure each tribunal that issued or registered an earlier order of child support receives a certified copy of the DCO.

Impact of DCO

Once a DCO is made by a tribunal, UIFSA’s rules governing CEJ as described in 11.B – Continuing Exclusive Jurisdiction Rules and rules governing modification ensure that the one order principle is followed.  The three main impacts of a DCO are:
1) The child support amount of the controlling order can be enforced prospectively.

2) The arrears under the “other” orders are consolidated and can no longer accrue.

3) The DCO determines the state’s law that governs future modification actions (e.g. the duration of support).

Scenarios

The following are several scenarios to determine the controlling order:
Scenario 1:

Facts
  • 1991 Wyoming Divorce 
  • 1992 Colorado URESA Order 
  • Now:
    • Custodial parent and child in Wyoming for 1 year
    • Non-custodial parent in Colorado
    • The custodial parent applies for IV-D services in Wyoming.

Analysis:  There are two orders (Wyoming and Colorado) and at least one of the parties resides in each state.  Because the child has lived in Wyoming for over 6 months, Wyoming is the child’s home state.  The Wyoming order is the controlling order, and Wyoming has CEJ.  The District CSE Office should file an action in District Court in Wyoming to determine the controlling order and calculate arrears as shown in Appendix 11.D – Arrears Calculation.

Scenario 2:

Facts
  • 1992 Wyoming Paternity Order
  • 1993 Colorado URESA Order 
  • Now:
    • Custodial parent and child in Wyoming for two months
    • Non-custodial parent in Colorado
    • The custodial parent applies for IV-D services in Wyoming
Analysis:  There are two orders (Wyoming and Colorado) and at least one of the parties resides in each state.  Because the child has lived in Wyoming less than 6 months, Wyoming is not the child’s home state.  The next step is to identify the most recent order.  The Colorado order is the controlling order, and Colorado has CEJ.  The District CSE Office should ask Colorado to make a DCO and calculate arrears as shown in Appendix 11.D – Arrears Calculation.

Scenario 3

Facts:
  • 2000 Wyoming Paternity Order 
  • 2004 Colorado Order (all parties moved to Colorado and the order does not mention the Wyoming order)
  • Now:
    • CP and child move back to Wyoming in 2008
    • Non-custodial parent in Colorado
    • Custodial parent requests IV-D services in Wyoming
Analysis:  Colorado did not have subject matter jurisdiction to enter a support order under UIFSA.  The Colorado court should have recognized the Wyoming order.  The Wyoming District CSE Office should file an action with the District Court to rule that the Colorado order is void and enforce the Wyoming order (controlling order) and Wyoming has CEJ to modify and enforce the order prospectively.  

Statutory Authority

Wyo. Stat. §20-4-148 Determination of controlling child support orders


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1Home State is defined as the State in which the child(ren) in a case has lived with a parent, or person acting as a parent, for the last 6 consecutive months preceding any action, or if the child(ren) is under 6 months old, the State in which the child(ren) has lived since birth.