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NC Courts Strictly Enforce Rules About Child Support Orders from Other States

Matt Richardson

As attorneys practicing domestic law near Fort Liberty, one of the largest military bases in the United States, we often serve clients who are forced to move frequently. A person’s residence can impact whether a North Carolina court has jurisdiction over their case. This is especially true when it comes to divorce, child custody, and child support.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals recently issued a decision in the case of Sinclair v. Sinclair. Two divorced parents had a child support order issued in Virginia. The mother, serving in the military, was living in Japan. The father moved to North Carolina and sought to have the Virginia child support order modified. The North Carolina judge agreed and ordered the mother to pay more money each month. The mother appealed.

NC Court Strikes Down Child Support Modification

The N.C. Court of Appeals ruled that the trial judge did not follow special laws pertaining to child support orders from other states. In particular, the court ruled that the judge had no jurisdiction (the power to rule on the matter):

Subject matter jurisdiction for modification of an out-of-state child support order may be established under either North Carolina General Statute Section 52C-6-611 or 52C-6-613. North Carolina does not have jurisdiction to modify the Virginia Order under North Carolina General Statute Section 52C-6-613 because, in part, this applies only if both parents reside in North Carolina; however, Mother resides in Japan. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 52C-6-613 (“(a) If all of the parties who are individuals reside in this State . . . .” (emphasis added)).

North Carolina General Statute Section 52C-6-611 provides for jurisdiction to modify an out-of-state child support order if Section 52C-6-613 does not apply:

(a) If G.S. 52C-6-613 does not apply, upon petition, a tribunal of this State may modify a child support order
issued in another state which is registered in this State if, after notice and hearing, the tribunal finds that:

(1) The following requirements are met:

a. Neither the child, nor the obligee who is an individual, nor the obligor resides in the issuing state;
b. A petitioner who is a nonresident of this State seeks modification; and
c. The respondent is subject to the personal jurisdiction of the tribunal of this State; or

(2) 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.
N.C. Gen Stat. § 52C-6-611 (2021) (emphasis added).

Because the parents did not file consent in Virginia for a North Carolina judge to modify the Virginia Order, the North Carolina judge’s decision granting the father more money was vacated. This means it has no legal effect. The father is forced to start all over if he wants to obtain more in child support from the mother.

Divorce and Child Support in Cumberland County

The parents above wasted a great deal of time and legal expense because they did not follow the particular North Carolina laws regarding child support orders from other states. Their plight demonstrates value of an experienced and competent domestic attorney.

Melinda Flinn
Melinda Flinn

If you are facing a divorce, custody, or child support issue in Fayetteville, Fort Liberty, or Cumberland County, call today to speak with our domestic attorney: Melinda Flinn. She’ll be happy to help tailor a solution to meet your specific needs, and she’ll help you avoid pitfalls like the one above.

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