Duhaime's Law Dictionary

URESA Definition:

Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act of the United States.

Related Terms: UIFSA, REMO, Child Support

Created in 1950 by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.

After the Uniform Support of Dependents Law, URESA was the first family support uniform legislation in the USA and it was ultimately adopted, in some form or another, by all the US states.

In his 1978 article, Associate Dean of the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law, William Fox wrote:

"A ubiquitous state-enacted statute, the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (URESA), remains the basic statutory mechanism for enforcing spousal and child support orders on an interstate basis....

"URESA is an attempt-to provide a consistent statutory mechanism for the interstate, and occasionally international, enforcement of support decrees without forcing the person seeking support to bring the action in the absent spouse's jurisdiction....

URESA puzzle"The Act's mechanism is triggered in a proceeding which has become known as the two-state civil suit. The spouse or child, or a representative, files a verified petition (in some states Complaint or Declaration) stating at least the following: (1) the address and circumstances" of the obligor; (2) the address and circumstances of the obligee; and (3) all other pertinent information; i.e., those facts which create the duty of support. Revised URESA (RURESA) also recommends that the petition contain as much information as possible to help locate the obligor....

"Having briefly reviewed the petition to ascertain a support duty and having made at least a preliminary decision as to the whereabouts of the obligor, the initiating court then forwards three copies of the petition, the court's certificate, and a copy of the text of its own URESA to the appropriate responding court.

"When the responding court receives the petition, it dockets the case and notifies the local prosecutor; the prosecutor then serves the obligor.... The prosecutor then undertakes representation of the obligee, although some jurisdictions provide for private court-appointed counsel for the obligee....

"Once the obligor is found and served he has a chance to dispute the petition by appearing at a hearing.... At the conclusion of the evidentiary hearing, the responding court dismisses the petition or, if it finds a duty of support, orders the obligor to provide the support and sets the terms, including amount, of the support order."

URESA was updated in 1968 and the revised version became known as "RURESA", the initial "R" standing for "Revised."

It has been replaced by UIFSA.


  • Fox, William, Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act, 12 Fam. L. Q. 115 (1978-1979)

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