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Unlocking Enforcement: Registering Out-of-State Orders in North Carolina

Oct. 31, 2023

People move every day in the United States. From moving across town to moving across the country, most individuals will experience relocation at least once in their lifetime. Moving is a complicated enough experience. It can become even more complicated when you have family law court orders. These include child support, child custody, or spousal support. The good news is that these orders can be enforced regardless of where you or your ex live. Even if neither of you lives in the state in which the orders were issued, the orders are still enforceable. However, enforcement becomes easier when you register your out-of-state orders in North Carolina. 

Why Should You Register Your Out-of-State Orders in North Carolina?

When you have a court order that dictates child support, child custody, spousal support, or some other aspect of your divorce, this order gives you certain protections. The order ensures that both you and the other party live up to the terms set by it. It gives you the assurance of being able to ask the court to force the other party to do what they are ordered if they don't. The order also allows you to modify it in the future if circumstances change. 

When you have not registered your out-of-state orders in North Carolina, North Carolina may find it does not have jurisdiction over them. If this happens, you may have to file for enforcement in the state that originally wrote the order. This may mean physically returning to the state for filing and/or for hearings. This can be expensive and time-consuming. In some cases, it may even be cost-prohibitive and cause a party to not ask for the necessary enforcement. Registration is also a requirement to have out-of-state orders modified in North Carolina.

What Are the Benefits of Registration?

When you register your out-of-state family law orders in North Carolina, you'll be able to ask for enforcement of the orders through the North Carolina court system. This means that if your ex fails to do something they are ordered to do or otherwise violates the order, you can file it here. You can also have your case heard instead of returning to the state that originally wrote the order. 

One thing that is important to note. The registration does not necessarily mean that North Carolina has jurisdiction to modify the orders. Registration is a requirement for modification. However, your case must also meet the provisions of the Uniform Child Custody and Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) in order to modify child custody orders. 

What Laws Protect Me and Allow Me to Register My Orders?

There are two laws that protect parents and allow them to register their out-of-state family law orders in North Carolina. One is the UCCJEA mentioned above, which is a federal law governing child custody. This law states that the child's home state, or where the child lived for at least six months before the case was filed, is where initial child custody orders must be filed. It further provides that the home state continues jurisdiction over the order until or unless the child and both parents no longer reside in that state. If the child and both parents reside in other states, UCCJEA allows the authority to modify custody to be granted to the state in which the child now resides. 

The other law is the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act. This is also a federal law and it governs child support. This law ensures that different states don't issue different child support orders in the same case. It also allows child support orders to be enforced in any state, not just the one that issued the order. If both parents live somewhere other than the state that issued the order, this law also moves jurisdiction to the state where the party responding to an enforcement or modification petition lives. 

What Happens When I Register My Out-of-State Family Orders?

Registration is a step all parties should consider, even if you are still on good terms with your ex. This can be a particularly beneficial step for parents. It offers them protection if their ex attempts to withhold custody or visitation, fails to pay child support, or otherwise violates a family law order. 

When you register your out-of-state family law order, you ensure that if your ex violates the order, you can file for enforcement and have your case heard right here in Mecklenburg County, NC. If your case meets the provisions of the UCCJEA, you can then file for modification as well. 

Do You Need Help Registering Your Out-of-State Family Law Order? 

Registering your out-of-state family law orders in North Carolina is a  protective step against the possibility of your ex violating the order. By registering your order, you have the peace of mind of knowing that you can have the order enforced right here in Mecklenburg, NC, rather than potentially having to return to the state that issued the order. If you need assistance with registering your orders, the Law Office of Jana K. Jones is more than happy to assist you. Contact our office today to discuss your legal options.