Updated: Oct 28, 2022
This post is all about registering judicial orders from a foreign court.
Are you a divorced parent who has moved to Utah from another state? From another country? Did you remember to pack up that divorce decree, child custody order, or child support order with all your other “important papers” and valuables? I’m sure you did. But what you may not know is that those extremely valuable documents, which represent a huge expenditure of tears, time, and money, have very little practical value now that you’ve left the jurisdiction of the court in whatever state or country you moved from. They can’t and won’t be enforced by Utah courts. Whatever legal authority they held has simply evaporated as you crossed a state or international border.
So, what now?? Do you have to re-invent the same painful wheel to preserve all that hard-fought clarity, closure, and stability??
It turns out that the answer is “No”. Thanks to the Utah Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) and the Utah Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), the Utah court system has provided a path to registering and converting your “foreign” child custody or support order into a recognized judicial order which is enforceable by a Utah court just as if it originated here. Note- the term “foreign” here means any order that isn’t from Utah. It could be from Brazil or Wyoming—it’s still “foreign” under Utah law.
So, how do you register your foreign order under the UCCJEA? Is it hard? Is it expensive? Good questions, all. For you hardcore DIYers, you can certainly go the pro se route and file to get your foreign order registered and confirmed without hiring a lawyer. You fearless and highly motivated folks can find the DIY manual here:
https://www.utcourts.gov/howto/family/foreign_order/#:~:text=To%20register%20the%20order%2C%20file,which%20the%20opposing%20party%20lives. (Note- if you absolutely hate assembling IKEA furniture, it is likely that you will enjoy this even less).
You’ll find that navigating this process without an attorney is possible. But honestly, like all court proceedings, it isn’t an easy road, and it tends to be littered with lethal landmines—or at least obnoxious potholes. The good news is that the filing fee charged by Utah courts for registering a foreign order is a fraction of the cost of filing a brand-new lawsuit: $35 instead of $375. Which seems only fair since you already paid full price (and then some) in the state/ country you moved from.
The bottom line is that if you’ve moved to Utah with a perfectly good custody or support order which was working great as the all-important “rule book” for the difficult task of co-parenting post-divorce, you should get that thing registered and confirmed by a Utah court. You won’t be able to enforce it or benefit from its protections unless and until you do. Even if the custody and support order is not perfectly good—i.e., it’s out-of-date, needs to be changed, isn’t fair due to new circumstances, sucked to begin with, etc.—you should still get it registered because a Utah court won’t have any power to modify it until it’s registered as a Utah order. So don’t get caught emptyhanded, and don’t wait until you desperately need an immediately enforceable domestic order--- be proactive and start the registration process right now. The peace of mind will be well worth it.
Lear & Lear attorneys will be happy to tell you more about the registration process, and to handle yours from start to finish. We’re a call or a click away: