This topic contains information on the following:
Since UIFSA provides that either the obligee or obligor can request registration of a foreign support order, the petitioning party can be referred to as the "movant" and the defendant as the "non-registering party". A child support order or income withholding order can be registered for enforcement, modification, or both. Registration should be used when a civil order for support exists, and the nonregistering party is located in another state. Criminal orders cannot be registered due to the limited life of the order.
UIFSA requires states to enforce child support orders entered by other states, and it prohibits states from modifying child support orders from other states unless certain jurisdictional requirements are met. The responding state uses and enforces the order based on the initiating state's order amount, arrearages, and age of emancipation. The longer of the two states’ statutes of limitations for arrearage collection applies. Modification of the order can only occur under very strict circumstances. An existing support order can be registered as often as needed when an obligor relocates from state to state.
A determination of the controlling order and arrearages is made. The following documents and information are sent to the responding state's central registry:
1. A Child Support Enforcement Transmittal # 1 (DSS-4556), requesting registration and enforcement.
2. Two (2) copies (including one certified copy) of all orders to be registered, including any modifications. "All orders to be registered" includes the controlling orders and all orders that are used to determine the arrearages. If the order to be registered is stated in a foreign currency, the initiating agency is responsible for converting the amounts into the equivalent amount in US dollars, using an official market exchange rate. CSS workers should update the arrearages annually to reflect the current official market exchange rate and document the exchange rate that is used for the calculation in ACTS.
3. A Registration Statement (DSS-4557), which provides specific order information. A separate Registration Statement must be sent with each order under consideration for registration;
4. A certified statement by the custodian of the records showing the amount of any arrearage and including the date and amount of the last payment.
The responding state registers the order by filing the request with the court. The petitioner in the initiating state is not required to pay a filing fee or other court costs.
The responding state generates and sends notice of the registration to the noncustodial parent (NCP). UIFSA provides that this notice can be sent by the appropriate methods that are used under a state's statutes. For North Carolina registrations, it is recommended that Rule 4 of the Rules of Civil Procedure be used. If the nonregistering party does not request a hearing, the registered order is confirmed by operation of law.
When the custodial parent (CP) requests services from one North Carolina county, the noncustodial parent (NCP) resides in a different NC county, and an order exists in another state, the order should be registered in the county where the NCP resides.
The CP's CSS county is responsible for obtaining copies of all the orders (including one certified copy), as well as a certified pay record or sworn statement of arrearages from the other state. CSS caseworkers can use the CSE Transmittal #3 (DSS-4704) to request the information from the other state's Central Registry, or they can make a request directly to the court where the order originated.
The CP's CSS county is also responsible for completing the registration statement and contacting the CP to advise him/her of the intercounty transfer of the case. The CP's CSS county forwards copies of the orders, pay records/sworn statement of arrearages, and registration to the NCP's CSS county along with a request to register the order. The CP's CSS county transfers the case to the NCP's CSS county and advises the NCP's CSS county supervisor of the request for registration.
If the noncustodial parent (NCP) contests the registration, a hearing must be requested within twenty (20) days of the date when the notice of registration was served. (The number of days can vary from state to state.) Caseworkers should allow three (3) additional days to meet the requirement of Rule 6E of the Rules of Civil Procedure.
When a hearing is scheduled, notice of the date, time, and location of the hearing must be provided to the initiating state immediately.
Under UIFSA, the non-registering party has the burden of proving one or more of the following defenses:
1. The issuing tribunal did not have personal jurisdiction over the nonregistering party;
2. The order was obtained by fraud;
3. The order has been vacated, suspended, or modified by a later order;
4. The issuing tribunal has stayed the order pending an appeal;
5. A defense to the remedy sought exists under the law of this state;
6. Full or partial payment has been made; or
7. The statute of limitations precludes enforcement of some or all of the arrearages.
8. The alleged controlling order is not the controlling order.
The nonregistering party can return to the issuing tribunal to initiate a contest action that might be available under the issuing state's general laws.
If the nonregistering party only contests the arrearage calculations, the CSS agency should ask the registering tribunal to require the payment of current support, pending the outcome of the arrearage contest. If the nonregistering party proves that the arrearage calculation is incorrect, the responding state should insure that the confirmation order includes the correct arrearage amount.
Confirmation of the registered order (by operation of law or after notice and hearing) precludes a further contest of the order with respect to any matter that could have been raised at the time of registration. If the nonregistering party fails to respond to the notice, the order is confirmed by operation of law and enforcement action can be initiated. When a hearing is conducted, a confirmation order must be entered, confirming the terms of the registered order and the arrearages asserted to be due from that order.
An existing support order can be registered for enforcement only when direct income withholding or administrative enforcement in another state is not possible. When an order is registered for enforcement only, the registered order remains an order of the issuing/ initiating tribunal.
Prior to registration, workers must determine all existing child support orders (including modifications) that are associated with the CSS case. If more than one order exists, a tribunal having personal jurisdiction over both the obligor and obligee can make a determination of the controlling order. The initiating state is responsible for reviewing the orders and deciding which state should determine the controlling order. The controlling order is the order to be enforced, although it might not be the only order used to determine arrearages.
Any valid child support order can be used to calculate arrearages. In multiple order situations, it is recommended that the order setting the support obligation at the highest amount (from the effective date of that order) be used. Credit should be applied for payments based on that (or any other) order. The arrearage calculation should be clearly and accurately prepared; a month by month breakdown is recommended. If more than one order is used to determine the arrearage, workers should note the time periods that are applicable to each order on the calculation sheet.
To determine the number of originals and copies of the petition that the responding state requires, CSS workers can access the Intergovernmental Reference Guide (IRG) through the FPLS State Service Portal (SSP): "https://fplsssp.dhhs.state.nc.us/".
When reviewing the referral, the local CSS workers should notify the initiating agency when discrepancies in the controlling order or arrearages are found to request an amended registration packet. The registration packet should not be filed until the discrepancies are corrected and the amended registration packet has been received. Upon receiving the amended registration packet, CSS must file the packet with the Clerk of Court.
However, if the proof of the manner in which parentage was established is not apparent in the original petition:
Continue to contact the other state until the information is provided. Once the other state returns the supporting documentation, CSS workers update ACTS with the correct information.
When the registration referral is filed, the CSS case caption that is entered on the Notice of Registration must remain the same as the caption on the referral. The Clerk of Court assigns a docket number and issues the Notice of Registration for service on the nonregistering party by first class, certified, or registered mail or by personal service. A copy of the registered order, the Registration Statement (DSS-4557), and a certified arrearage statement must accompany the Notice of Registration.
The Notice of Registration informs the nonregistering party of the legal effect of registration, the action being requested (enforcement, modification, or both), the right to contest the validity or enforcement of the order, the results of failure to contest the validity or enforcement of the order, and the amount of any alleged arrearage. The notice should also include the amount of current support and the next payment due date.
If order that is being registered is from a foreign country, the responding state must convert the financial terms of the obligation from the amount that is stated in foreign currency to the equivalent amount in US dollars.
The procedure of registration for modification involves two (2) processes:
1. The registration of the existing order; and
2. The subsequent modification of the registered order.
The documentation required for registration must be received, as well as a petition for modification that outlines the basis for requesting modification. It is recommended that both packets of documentation be filed simultaneously.
Before any modification can be made, CEJ (Continuing Exclusive Jurisdiction) must be determined. Therefore, regardless of whether the obligee or obligor requests assistance, the worker must determine whether the modification request is appropriate.
When a registered order is confirmed, the local tribunal can modify the order if:
1. The obligor, obligee, and the child no longer reside in the issuing state, the movant or party asking for the modification does not reside in this state, and the nonregistering party is subject to the personal jurisdiction of this state; or
2. At least one (1) party (or the child) is subject to the personal jurisdiction of the responding tribunal, and all parties have filed a written consent in the issuing tribunal authorizing a tribunal of this state to modify the order and assume CEJ. The case caption on any order that is entered as a rssult of registration must remain as the caption on the referral.
Even if a North Carolina order exists and all parties have left the state, the parties can consent in a record or in open court that a NC tribunal can continue to exercise CEJ and modify its order.
When the tribunal finds that jurisdiction for modification can be asserted, a modification order can be entered. As a result, the local tribunal has CEJ. The order can be enforced as if it had been issued by a tribunal of this state, and it is subject to the same requirements, procedures, and defenses.
Any aspect of the registered order that is not modifiable in the issuing state (such as duration of support) cannot be modified by the local tribunal. Within thirty (30) days after a modified child support order is issued, a certified copy of the order must be filed with the issuing tribunal that previously had CEJ over the earlier order. A certified copy of the Notice Of Determination Of Controlling Order (DSS-4705) along with a copy of the modified order is sent to tribunal where the CSS agency knows that the earlier order has been registered.
REGISTRATION FOR MODIFICATION - NC AS INITIATING STATE
The procedures for modification are the same as those for registering an order for enforcement. A packet requesting registration and a standard petition for modification must be done simultaneously in all applicable CSS cases. The verified petition must state the grounds supporting a modification. Once the order is modified, the responding tribunal gains CEJ.
REGISTRATION FOR MODIFICATION - NC AS RESPONDING STATE
When a request to register an existing order for modification is received, the local CSS caseworker must review the documents to determine the controlling order.
After an existing order is registered and confirmed, the modification request can be considered. The tribunal can modify the existing order if the conditions for modification are met.
The modification of a registered order is subject to the same requirements, procedures, and defenses that apply to the modifications of an order issued by a tribunal in NC. NC child support guidelines are used to determine the child support obligation. A tribunal in NC cannot modify any aspect of a child support order that cannot be modified under the law of the issuing state. The age of emancipation is an example of a non-modifiable aspect of a child support order. Any order that has been registered for modification and subsequently is modified becomes an order of the responding tribunal.
For questions or clarification on any of the policy contained in these manuals, please contact your local county office.