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Chapter 04 - Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support

Chapter 04 - Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support

42.0401 Short title.


This chapter may be cited as the “Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act”.

42.0402 Purpose.


The purposes of the chapter are to improve and extend by reciprocal legislation the enforcement of duties of support and to make uniform the law with respect thereto.

42.0403 Interpretation.


This chapter shall be so interpreted and construed as to effectuate its general purpose to make uniform the law of those states which enact it.

42.0404 Definitions.


In this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:

(a) “Certification” means to be in accordance with the laws of the certifying state.

(b) “Court” means the district court of American Samoa, and when the context requires, means the court of any state as defined in a substantially similar reciprocal law.

(c) “Duty of support” includes any duty or support imposed or imposable by law or by any court order, decree or judgment, whether interlocutory or final whether incidental to a proceeding for divorce, judicial or legal separation, separate maintenance or otherwise.

(d) “Governor” includes any person performing the functions of Governor or the executive authority of any state covered by the provisions of a reciprocal law substantially similar to this chapter.

(e) “Initiating state” means any state in which a proceeding pursuant to this or a substantially similar reciprocal law is commenced.

(f) “Law” includes both common and statute law.

(g) “Obligee” means any person to whom a duty of support is owed, and may also mean a state, or political subdivision thereof, which has furnished support to an obligee and thus has a remedy under 42.0407.

(h) “Obligor” means any person owing a duty of support.

(i) “Register” means to record or file in the registry of foreign support orders.

(j) “Registering court” means the High Court of American Samoa, in which the support order of the rendering state is registered.

(k) “Rendering state” means any state in which a support order is originally entered.

(1) “Responding state” means any state in which any proceeding pursuant to the proceeding in the initiating state is or may be commenced.

(m) “State’ includes any state, territory or possession of the United States, and the District of Columbia, in which this or a substantially similar reciprocal law has been enacted.

(n) “Support order” means any judgment, decree or order of support, whether temporary or final, whether subject to modification, revocation or remission, regardless of the kind of action in which it is entered.

42.0405 Other remedies not precluded.


The remedies provided in this chapter are in addition to and not in substitution for any other remedies.

42.0406 Duties of support-Presumption.


(a) Duties of support applicable under this chapter are those imposed or imposable under the law of any state where the obligor was present during the period for which support is sought.

(b) The obligor is presumed to have been present in the responding state during the period for which support is sought until otherwise shown.

42.0407 Remedy of jurisdiction furnishing support.


Whenever the state or a political subdivision thereof furnishes support to an obligee, it has the same right to invoke the provisions of this chapter as the obligee to whom the support was furnished, for the purpose of securing reimbursement of expenditures so made and of obtaining continuing support.

42.0408 Obligor bound regardless of obligee’s residence.


Duties of support arising under the laws of this territory, when applicable under 42.0406, bind an obligor present in this territory, regardless of the presence or residence of the obligee.

42.0409 Territory information agency.


The Attorney General, or his assistant, is designated as the territory information agency under this chapter, and he shall:

(1) Transmit the name of the district court of American Samoa, Pago Pago, American Samoa, to the state information agency of every state which has adopted this or a substantially similar law;

(2) Maintain a register of lists received from states and transmit copies thereof, as soon as possible after receipt, to the district court.

42.0420 Demand and surrender-Applicability of extradition laws.


(a) The Governor of this territory may demand from the governor of any state the surrender of any person found in such state who is charged in this territory with the crime of failing to provide for the support of any person in this territory, and may surrender on demand by the governor of any state any person found in this territory who is charged in such state with the crime of failing to provide for the support of any person in such state.

(b) The laws regarding extradition of criminals not inconsistent herewith apply to any demand, even if the person whose surrender is demanded was not in the demanding state at the time of the commission of the crime and had not fled therefrom.

(c) Neither the demand, the oath or any proceedings for extradition pursuant to this section need state or show that the person whose surrender is demanded has fled from justice, or that at the time of the commission of the crime, he was in the demanding state or the state upon which the demand is made.

42.0421 Failure or uselessness of action by obligee as prerequisite to demand.


(a) Before making the demand on the governor of any state for the surrender of a person charged in this territory with the crime of failing to provide for the support of any person, the Governor of this territory may require the Attorney General of this territory, or his assistant, to satisfy him that at least 60 days prior thereto the obligee brought an action for the support under this chapter, or that the bringing of an action would be of no avail.

(1) When, under this or a substantially similar law, a demand is made upon the Governor of this territory by the governor of a state for the surrender of a person charged in the state with the crime of failing to provide support, the Governor may require the Attorney General or his assistant to investigate or assist in investigating the demand, and to report to him whether any action for support has been brought under this chapter or would be effective.

(c) If an action for support would be effective and no action has been brought, the Governor may delay honoring the demand for a reasonable time to permit prosecution of an action for support.

(d) If an action for support has been brought and the person demanded has prevailed in that action, the Governor may decline to honor the demand.

(e) If an action for support has been brought and pursuant thereto the person demanded is subject to a support order, the Governor may decline to honor the demand so long as the person demanded is complying with the support order.

42.0422 Duties of district court and territorial officials when acting as responding state.


(a) After the district court, acting as a responding state, has received from the court of an initiating state copies of a complaint, the certificate of the court of the initiating state, and the initiating state’s reciprocal support law, the clerk of the district court shall docket the case and notify the Attorney General of his action.

(b) It shall be the duty of the Attorney General or his assistant diligently to prosecute the case. He shall take all action necessary in accordance with the laws of this territory to give the district court jurisdiction of the defendant or his property and shall request the district court to set a time and place for a hearing.

(c) The Attorney General or his assistant shall, on his own initiative, use all means at his disposal to trace the defendant or his property, and if delay is caused by inaccuracies of the complaint or otherwise, the Attorney General or his assistant shall inform the district court to continue the case pending receipt of more accurate information or an amended complaint from the court in the initiating state.

(d) If the defendant or his property is not found in the territory and the Attorney General or his assistant discovers by any means that the defendant or his property may be found in a state, he shall so inform the district court and thereupon the clerk of the district court shall forward the documents received from the court in the initiating state to a court in the other state or to the information agency or other proper official of the other state with a request that it forward the documents to the proper court. When the clerk of a court of this territory retransmits documents to another court, he shall notify forthwith the court from which the documents came.

(e) If the Attorney General or his assistant has no information as to the whereabouts of the obligor or his property he shall so inform the initiating court.

42.0423 Duty of district court regarding payments due or from initiating state.


(a) The district court, when acting as a responding state, shall have the following duties which may be carried out through the clerk of the district court:

(1) upon the receipt of a payment made by a defendant pursuant to any order of the district court or otherwise, to transmit the same forth-with to the court of the initiating state; and

(2) upon request, to furnish to the court of the initiating state a certified statement of all payments made by a defendant.

(b) The district court, when acting as an initiating state, shall have the duty which may be carried out through the clerk of the district court to receive and disburse forthwith all payments made by a defendant or transmitted by the court of the responding state.

42.0430 Rights and enforcement.


All duties of support, including arrearages, are enforceable by action or complaint, irrespective of the relationship between the obligor and the obligee.

42.0431 Jurisdiction of district court.


Jurisdiction of all proceedings under this chapter is vested in the district court of American Samoa.

42.0432 Arrest of defendants who may flee.


When the district court, acting either as an initiating or responding state, has reason to believe that the defendant may flee the jurisdiction, it may:

(1) as an initiating state, request in its certificate that the court of the responding state obtain the body of the defendant by appropriate process if that is permissible under the law of the responding state;

(2) as a responding state, obtain the body of the defendant by appropriate process.

42.0433 Conduct of proceedings.


The district court shall conduct proceedings under this chapter in the manner prescribed by law for an action for the enforcement of the type of duty of support claimed.

42.0434 Attorney General to represent plaintiff.


The Attorney General or his assistant shall represent the plaintiff in any proceeding under this chapter.

42.0435 Complaint-Contents.


The complaint shall be verified and shall state the name and, so far as known to the plaintiff, the address and circumstances of the defendant, his dependents for whom support is sought, and all other information which may help in locating or identifying the defendant, such as a photograph of the defendant, a description of any distinguishing marks of his person, other names and aliases by which he has been or is known, the name of his employer, his fingerprints, and his Social Security number.

42.0436 Complaint for a minor.


A complaint on behalf of a minor obligee may be brought by a person having legal or actual custody of the minor, without appointment as guardian ad litem.

42.0437 Transmission of complaint and other documents to responding state.


If the district court, acting as an initiating state, finds that the petition sets forth facts from which it may be determined that the defendant owes a duty of support and that a court of the responding state may obtain jurisdiction of the defendant or his property, it shall so certify and shall cause 3 copies of the complaint, its certificate and this chapter to be transmitted to the court in the responding state. If the name and address of such court is unknown and the responding state has an in-formation agency comparable to that established in this territory under 42.0409, it shall cause such copies to be transmitted to the state information agency or other proper official of the responding state, with a request that it forward them to the proper court, and that the court of the responding state acknowledge their receipt to the court of the initiating state.

42.0438 Proceedings not to be stayed.


No proceeding under this chapter may be stayed because of the existence of a pending action for divorce, separation, annulment, dissolution, habeas corpus, or custody.

42.0439 Continuation of action in plaintiff’s absence.


If the plaintiff is absent from the responding state and the defendant presents evidence which constitutes a defense, the district court shall continue the case for further hearing and the submission of evidence by both parties.

42.0440 Applicable rules of evidence.


In any hearing under this chapter, the district court shall be bound by the same rules of evidence that apply in other actions for enforcement of the duty of support.

42.0441 Communication between husband and wife.


Laws granting a privilege against the disclosure of communications between husband and wife are inapplicable to proceedings under this chapter; husband and wife are competent witnesses and may be compelled to testify to any relevant matter, including marriage and parentage.

42.0442 Support order.


If the court of the responding state finds a duty of support, it may order the defendant to furnish support or reimbursement therefor and subject the property of the defendant to such order.

42.0443 Transmission of orders to initiating state.


The district court, when acting as responding state, shall cause to be transmitted to the court of the initiating state a copy of all orders of support or for reimbursement therefor.

42.0444 Application of payments where more than one order exists.


No order of support issued by the district court acting as a responding state may supersede any other order of support, but the amounts for a particular period paid pursuant to either order shall be credited against amounts accruing or accrued for the same period under both.

42.0445 Costs and fees.


There may be no filing fee or other costs taxable to the obligee, but the district court acting either as an initiating or responding state, may in its discretion direct that any part of or all fees and costs incurred in this territory, including without limitation by enumeration, fees for filing, service of process, seizure of property, and stenographic service for both plaintiff and defendant or either, be paid by the obligor or the territory.

42.0446 Effect of participation in proceedings on jurisdiction of other courts.


Participation in any proceedings under this chapter may not confer upon any court jurisdiction of any of the parties thereto in any other proceeding.

42.0447 Additional powers of district court over defendants.


In addition to the foregoing powers, the district court, when acting as the responding state, has the power to subject the defendant to such terms and conditions as the district court may deem proper to assure compliance with its orders and in particular:

(1) may require the defendant to furnish recognizance in the form of a cash deposit or bond of such character and in such amount as the district court may deem proper to assure payment of any amount required to be paid by the defendant;

(2) may require the defendant to make payments at specified intervals to the clerk of the district court and to report personally to such clerk at such times as may be deemed necessary;

(3) may punish a defendant who violates any order of the district court to the same extent as is provided by law for contempt of the district court in any other suit or proceeding cognizable by the district court.

42.0450 Additional remedy.


If a duty of support is based on a foreign support order, the obligee has the additional remedy provided in 42.0451 through 42.0454.

42.0451 Registration of foreign order.


(a) The obligee may register the foreign support order in the district court in the manner, with the effect and for the purpose provided in 42.0450 through 42.0454.

(b) The petition for registration shall be verified, and shall set forth the amount remaining unpaid and a list of any states in which the support order is registered, upon the filing of the complaint subject only to subsequent order of confirmation.

42.0452 Registry of foreign support orders.


The clerk of the district court shall maintain a registry of foreign support orders in which he shall record or file foreign support orders.

42.0453 Jurisdiction over defendant.


(a) The procedure to obtain jurisdiction of the person or property of the obligor shall be as provided in civil cases.

(b) The obligor may assert any defense available to a defendant in an action on a foreign judgment.

(c) If the obligor defaults, the district court shall enter an order confirming the registered support order and determining the amounts remaining unpaid.

(d) If the obligor appears and a hearing is held, the district court shall adjudicate the issues including the amounts remaining unpaid.

42.0454 Effect and enforcement of order.


The support order as confirmed shall have the same effect and may be enforced as if originally entered in the district court. The procedures for the enforcement thereof shall be as in civil cases, including the power to punish the defendant for contempt as in the case of other orders for payment of alimony, maintenance or support entered in this territory.