Registration of Foreign Child Custody and Support Orders

So you wish to move or have moved and have a child custody and/or child support order(s) signed by a Judge in another state.  How do you enforce the order(s) from another state?

FOREIGN CHILD CUSTODY ORDERS

While North Carolina law does not actually require a party to register a child custody order that is in place in a different state, you still need to be careful as to not violate the UCCJEA.  More on that here.  

Let's assume that the parties have a custody action in place in Florida and one party wants to move to North Carolina with the children.  North Carolina does have an optional registration of foreign custody orders under N.C.G.S. section 50A-305 which requires that the moving party send a letter or other document to the county court to where he/she will move prior to moving to North Carolina with the children.  The letter or other document must have a certified copy of a foreign custody order in addition to an additional copy attached to it when sent to the appropriate clerk's office.  Once the request to the NC court is made, the moving party must send a notice of the registration determination the other parent and that the other parent has the right to request a hearing.  If the non-moving parent does not request a hearing within 20 days of being sent the request for registration determination of the foreign child custody order, then the foreign order will become enforceable in North Carolina. 

This is typically done when one parent moves to North Carolina and the custodial parent remains in the foreign state.  Reason being is that the custodial parent can get the order registered in NC prior to sending the child so it's enforceable here in case the NC parent doesn't want to send the child back.

If both parties live in NC but the custody order is out of another state, then either party can file a new action as long as the child has resided in NC at least six months or more.  This is done to establish jurisdiction here.

HOW DOES REGISTRATION OF A FOREIGN CUSTODY ORDER DIFFER FROM REGISTRATION OF A FOREIGN SUPPORT ORDER?  

The main difference between the two is that the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, which actually governs child support orders between states, was implemented by all States (after the States were threatened by the Federal Government) to help with the cluster that became child support enforcement as a result of Americans moving more and more over the last couple decades.  The procedure involving registration of child custody orders within North Carolina is a NC only law and was not implemented nationwide.

There are actually a number of similarities between the UIFSA (found under Article 6 of the North Carolina General Statutes) and North Carolina's registration of foreign child custody orders statute.  Both require certified copies of the Order from the other state to be filed along with a petition or other writing and both require a response to service of the petition within 20 day before the Order will become enforceable within NC.  

CAN I MODIFY THE FOREIGN SUPPORT ORDER?

Excellent question.  If the following requirements are met under NCGS 52C-6-611 and NCGS 52C-6-613 then the registered foreign support order can be modified in North Carolina:

  • Both parties reside in North Carolina and the child no longer resides in the foreign state.
  • Neither the child, nor the obligee who is an individual, nor the obligor resides in the issuing state;
  • A petitioner who is a nonresident of this State seeks modification; and
  • The respondent is subject to the personal jurisdiction of the tribunal of this State; or
  • This State is the residence of the child, or a party who is an individual, is subject to the personal jurisdiction of the tribunal of this State and all of the parties who are individuals have filed consents in a record in the issuing tribunal for a tribunal of this State to modify the support order and assume continuing, exclusive jurisdiction.

Hope that clears up the muddy waters that is Foreign Order as they relate to family law.

*Nothing in this blog post establishes an attorney-client relationship and this information should not be construed as legal advice.