Hart v. Hart (North Carolina 2019)

No. COA18-914 (N.C. Ct. App. 2019)
November 2019

Failing to include a corrected support order with a packet for registration is procedural, not jurisdictional, and doesn’t necessarily bar a court from modifying the support order. The parents divorced in Washington, and the father was ordered to pay support. The support order was amended twice, once to reflect the mother and children’s move to North Carolina, and once to fix a typographical error. The father also moved to North Carolina. The mother registered the support order for enforcement. When she filed to register, she didn’t include the corrected order. The father filed to modify support and included all three orders in his filing. The trial court granted his petition and credited him for a substantial amount of support. The mother appealed. On appeal she argued the trial court didn’t have jurisdiction to modify the corrected order, which had been left out of the registration. The court of appeals disagreed. It found there was one controlling order with three parts. Mother’s failure to include the corrected order in her registration was procedural, not jurisdictional, and not fatal to the father’s modification. Further, the mother and father had referred to the corrected order in other proceedings. Under UIFSA, Washington had lost continuing exclusive jurisdiction over the controlling order since both parents and the children now lived in North Carolina. North Carolina could enforce and modify the Washington order. The appellate court also found sufficient evidence in the record to support the amounts the court set for the parents’ gross monthly incomes.