Modifying an Out-of-State Child Support Order in North Carolina

Child Support Orders from sister states are modifiable in a number of certain circumstances.  To determine qualification to modify an order, one should start with the Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act (FFCCSOA) enacted by the United States Congress in 1994.  This law supersedes any inconsistent state laws and is binding on states.

If consistent with the provisions of the FFCCSOA, an order of an issuing state cannot be modified in North Carolina unless this state has jurisdiction and

(1)  The issuing state has lost continuing, exclusive jurisdiction because neither party currently resides in the issuing state OR

(2)  All the parties have executed a written consent and filed it with the issuing state.

Once jurisdiction and one of the above circumstances have been achieved, the foreign order must be registered in North Carolina by the party seeking modification.  A Motion to Modify must then be filed and substantial changes in circumstances both alleged and proved.

Note that North Carolina may not modify a provision in an order of the issuing state if it is not modifiable by the laws of the issuing state.  For example, Georgia law prohibits retroactive modification of child support orders, thus a North Carolina order that attempted to reduce or forgive an arrears calculation in a Georgia order would be invalid.

Under the FFCCSOA if both parties have moved to and reside in North Carolina the issuing state has lost continuing jurisdiction and the child support order may be modified in this state pursuant to the laws of North Carolina.  For example, if the child support guidelines in effect in New York would yield child support of $600 a month, but the North Carolina guidelines would provide a payment of $400, the modified Order would reflect the child support calculated pursuant to North Carolina rules.

The Court can also modify provisions in support orders that are different in North Carolina and the issuing state. For example an order of New Jersey provided that a mentally disabled person was not emancipated.  This issue is modifiable by New Jersey law and in an modification action in North Carolina once all the requirements were met, the determination of emancipation was re-litigated and since North Carolina provides that parents are not required to support their mentally efficient children past the usual age of majority, the support obligation was terminated.

However, this would not occur had the provision regarding emancipation been by the consent of the parties.    If the parties agree to expand the duration of a child support obligation, for example having support continue while a child is in college, the Courts will enforce the agreement whether in a consent order or an agreement incorporated into a divorce judgment.