Registering Out-Of-State Orders Makes Them Enforceable in NC

Moving is not uncommon in the U.S. According to Shyft, the average American moves close to 12 times during their life with about 10% of U.S. residents moving each year. These moves are sometimes across town or within the same state; however, 3 million people move to a different state each year.

Society’s transitory nature has led states and the federal government to create laws that allow family law court orders to be enforced throughout the country.

If you have moved to North Carolina, our attorneys at Jetton & Meredith, PLLC can help you register your family law orders concerning child custody, child support, and alimony/spousal support. Registration will make the orders fully enforceable through the North Carolina judicial system.

North Carolina residency is not required to domesticate an order in this state. If the other party of your family law order lives here, you should consider registering the order if they have not done so. This will offer you protection should they violate the order.

Two uniform state laws were developed and implemented throughout the U.S. to provide a framework for determining jurisdiction in custody and support disputes and enforcement issues.

Uniform Interstate Family Support Act

All 50 states and U.S. territories have adopted the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), which controls child support orders. North Carolina passed its version of UIFSA in 1995.

This cooperation and recognition of child support orders among all the states prevent two states from issuing competing support orders. One parent cannot move to another state in the hopes of reopening their support case for a more favorable outcome. Support orders can be enforced throughout the U.S., not just in the state that issued the order.

While support is enforceable by other states, the state that issued the original order retains jurisdiction. If neither party lives in the initiating state, then the jurisdiction moves to the state where the party responding to a modification or enforcement action lives.

Uniform Child Custody and Jurisdiction Enforcement Act

The Uniform Child Custody and Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) governs child custody. All but one state has adopted UCCJEA (Massachusetts follows the previous Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act). North Carolina’s UCCJEA was passed in 1999.

Initial custody determinations are filed in the child’s home state. The home state is where the child lived for at least six consecutive months before the filing of the initial custody case. The state that issued the original order retains jurisdiction over the matter, including modifications. If the child and both parents no longer live in that state, the authority to modify custody can be moved to the child’s new home state.

The Importance of Registering Family Court Orders

When you register your existing family orders in North Carolina, the state can enforce those orders. Registration is a prudent step even when both parties remain on good terms. One can never predict the future actions of others. If your former partner stops paying support or violates custody arrangements, having the orders already registered in the state will expedite enforcement action.

Registering the orders does not, however, change which state has jurisdiction. North Carolina would not have the authority to modify an existing order based on registration alone.

Our state courts can issue temporary emergency orders to protect a child living here if they are in immediate danger. The emergency order typically remains in effect until the court with jurisdiction can make a final determination.

Right to Contest Registration

The other party will be notified of your intention to register the court order(s) in the Tarheel State. They can request a court hearing regarding the matter. This request must be made within 20 days of receiving notice of the registration. Once the 20 days have elapsed, they will have no legal right to contest the registration.

The contesting party must prove one of the following grounds established in North Carolina General Statutes § 50A-305(d)(1-3):

  • The issuing court had no jurisdiction under Part 2
  • The child custody determination to be registered was vacated, stayed, or modified by a court with appropriate jurisdiction under Part 2
  • The contesting person was entitled to notice, but notice was not given in accordance with the standards of G.S. 50A-108 in the proceedings before the court that issued the order for which registration is sought

Legal Guidance in Domesticating Foreign Orders in North Carolina

Custody and support orders issued in other states can be enforced in North Carolina but only after being registered. Domesticating a foreign (out-of-state) order adds a layer of protection should the other party violate the stipulations in the order.

Let an experienced attorney at Jetton & Meredith, PLLC handle the process for you. We also stand ready to argue your side if the other party contests registration.

Schedule a consultation to learn more. Call (704) 931-5535 or reach us online.