As a new resident, will a state judge handle my custody case?

North Carolina is a state that attracts new residents for many reasons, as a place to work, to get an education, or to enjoy a comfortable retirement. You may be looking forward to a new life in this state, but if you have divorced and have an existing custody arrangement, you may wonder how your relocation will affect who hears your custody case going forward.

For example, you might want to know if a North Carolina judge will automatically have jurisdiction over your custody arrangement after you move. According to the North Carolina Judicial Branch site, the answer is no. Whether a state judge will take over your custody case or not will depend on certain circumstances.

When out of state orders remain valid

Even if you move to North Carolina, your co-parent might still reside in the state that you have left behind. If you share custody with your co-parent, the jurisdiction for your case will remain with the courts in your former state. This may happen whether you have moved your child or children with you to North Carolina or not.

So if you seek modifications to your custody arrangements, you need to file for them in your former state of residence. North Carolina law recognizes custody orders made in other states, so you can expect any order a judge makes in your old state to be valid.

When North Carolina courts may issue orders

Your legal situation may change if your co-parent or all parties to your arrangement have left your prior state of residence. If this happens, you can request a North Carolina court to take jurisdiction over your custody case. You may want to enforce an existing order from out of state or request a modification. To do so, you must register your custody order in North Carolina through a petition available on the NC Judicial Branch site.