The Supreme Court of North Carolina addressed yet another case this year that dealt with the registration of a foreign family court order. In the case of Gyger v. Clement, they dealt with a Swiss child support order. The parents were never married, but had 2 children born in Geneva, Switzerland. The mother established parentage and obtained a Swiss child support order. She then brought it to North Carolina to register it and enforce it on the children’s father. More specifically, the Swiss Central Authority attempted to register its child support order through the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (presumably NC’s Title IV-D agency). Defendant father was served about a week after the order’s filing in June 2016. He then sought to vacate that child support order, claiming a lack of notice. The Mother presented an affidavit, signed under penalty of perjury, about the case, and submitted it as evidence in the North Carolina proceedings, where she filed a Motion for Relief from the order that vacated her child support order. The trial court, and the NC Court of Appeals, denied the Mother’s Motion on the basis that her affidavit was not signed before a notary.
The North Carolina Supreme Court disagreed, and reversed. Notaries, as we know them to exist in the United States, are not always found in the same form in other countries. When UIFSA (the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act) was drafted (or, re-drafted in 2008 to implement the 2007 Hague Maintenance Convention), the drafters addressed affidavits in section 316, saying that they needed to be signed under penalty of perjury. The Mother in this case did sign her affidavit under penalty of perjury, and the fact that she lacked a traditional U.S. notarization of her signature is not a fatal flaw to her affidavit. The Court of Appeals’ ruling is reversed and the case is remanded. This is an important distinction for parties or witnesses who not only reside outside of the state, but reside outside of the United States.