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Registration of Foreign Orders: Mandatory or Optional?

So you’ve moved to Guilford County from Florida and up until your move you and your ex-spouse have been operating under a child custody order that was entered by a judge in a district court in Florida.  Now what? North Carolina General Statutes § 50A-305 provides guidelines for registration of child custody determinations in North Carolina. This procedure is optional but may be of benefit to you and your situation. By registering a child custody order in this state, a parent can send a child to another state without concern that the state will not enforce the order if the parent in this state refuses to return the child. 


If you do choose to follow the optional procedure outlined in § 50A-305, it is essential to remember that you will need a certified copy of the child custody order you are seeking to have registered in this state. You can obtain a certified copy from the Clerk of Court in the county where the child custody order was entered. The AOC has adopted additional forms to guide individuals through the registration process. Additionally, you must complete a Petition for Registration of Foreign Child Custody Order (AOC-CV-660) and file it with the Clerk of Court in the county where you seek to have the child custody order registered.  It is important to remember that the registration process is separate from an enforcement or modification proceeding.  Registering a foreign child custody order is one way to ensure North Carolina has jurisdiction to carry out enforcement and modification proceedings.


Suppose you choose to forego the registration process. In that case, a North Carolina court can enforce a foreign child custody order that has not been registered in this state if a North Carolina court has modification jurisdiction of the order. North Carolina General Statutes §§ 50A-202 and 50A-203 determine when North Carolina courts have modification jurisdiction.


Of course, an individual can contest the registration of a foreign custody order in North Carolina. An individual who contests the foreign custody order registration must request a hearing within twenty (20) days after the notice of registration has been served. An individual contesting the registration of a foreign custody order has the burden of showing one of the following, as outlined in North Carolina General Statutes § 50A-305(d)(1-3):


(1) The issuing court had no jurisdiction under Part 2;


(2) The child custody determination to be registered was vacated, stayed, or modified by a court with appropriate jurisdiction under Part 2; or


(3) 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” (N.C.G.S. § 50A-305(d)(1-3)).


Registration of foreign child custody orders can be challenging to navigate. The experience of a family law attorney will help you determine whether the registration of your foreign child custody order is in your best interest and the best interest of your child.