If you had a child custody order from your prior state, you may be wondering if it still applies. Will you have to go through new child custody proceedings in North Carolina, now that you have moved here?
No. However, it’s a good idea to register the order from your prior state with the Clerk of the North Carolina Superior Court in your district. Registering your order with the Superior Court allows you to enforce the terms of the order in North Carolina.
It’s important to note that you don’t absolutely have to register your order before it can be enforced. If the need for enforcement arose before you had a chance to register the order, there are emergency procedures you can use.
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act
The reason you don’t have to go through a new child custody determination when you move to a new state is that all 50 states have passed the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, or UCCJEA. This law serves as an agreement between all states and many foreign countries to respect and enforce each other’s child custody orders.
The reason is that this is generally in the best interest of the children. Before the UCCJEA was passed, parents sometimes took their children to live in new states or in foreign countries where they thought they could get a more favorable custody order. It also allowed a parent who did not like the decision of one state court to simply file a case in the other state and seek another determination of custody.
Because the old state’s order remains in effect, the law also requires any modifications to your child custody order to be handled by that state, in most circumstances. However, if neither you nor your ex still lives in that state, you could petition a North Carolina court to modify your order.
Registering your child custody order with North Carolina is smart
Even if you and your ex have a positive relationship, the need for enforcement may arise. Although there are emergency procedures allowing you to register and enforce your order at the same time, it is still better to have the registration taken care of in advance of need.
It’s relatively easy to register a child custody order with the Superior Court, but you will need to give notice to your ex and fill out some legal forms. We recommend working with a compassionate attorney who will go the extra mile to help.