A parent can obtain a child-custody order from a foreign country, in substantial conformity with the jurisdictional provisions of the UCCJEA, and that child-custody order may then be registered in a U.S. state so that enforcement of it can be sought.
In the case of Hamdan v. Freitekh, (Case No. COA19-929) the Court of Appeals of North Carolina vacated its trial court’s registration and subsequent enforcement of a Shar’ia custody order, obtained from the Shar’ia Court of Jerusalem by a Father after the parties’ children were removed from Ramallah and unilaterally relocated to North Carolina. The father failed to meet the stringent requirements in the UCCJEA of what paperwork must be filed in order to seek registration of the Shar’ia custody order, specifically, he did not provide a certified copy of the custody order.
Citing to N.C. Gen. Stat. 50A-305, which are the UCCJEA’s registration provisions, “the out-of-state child-custody determination may be registered for enforcement by sending the following materials to the appropriate North Carolina court: (1) A letter or other document requesting registration; (2) Two copies, including one certified copy, of the determination sought to be registered, and a statement under penalty of perjury that to the best of the knowledge and belief of the person seeking registration the order has not been modified; and (3) Except as otherwise provided … the name and address of the person seeking registration and any parent or person acting as a parent who has been awarded custody or visitation in the child-custody determination sought to be registered.”
The court defined a “certified copy” by its plain meaning, saying it required a designation that it is a “true copy” by an officer who has the original document. The father never provided such a copy, although one of the multiple custody orders from the Shar’ia court had a stamp that read “Jerusalem Shar’ia Court.” Because the father did not meet the requirements, the court is divested of its subject matter jurisdiction. The registration of the orders, and their subsequent enforcement, are vacated.