521 S.E.2d 475 (N.C.App. 1999), COA98-1361, State of New York/Andrews v. Paugh

Docket Nº:COA98-1361.
Citation:521 S.E.2d 475, 135 N.C.App. 434
Party Name:STATE OF NEW YORK/Karen ANDREWS, Plaintiff, v. George PAUGH, Defendant.
Case Date:November 02, 1999
Court:Court of Appeals of North Carolina
 
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Page 475

521 S.E.2d 475 (N.C.App. 1999)

135 N.C.App. 434

STATE OF NEW YORK/Karen ANDREWS, Plaintiff,

v.

George PAUGH, Defendant.

No. COA98-1361.

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

November 2, 1999

[135 N.C.App. 435] Appeal by plaintiff from order entered 29 July 1998 by Judge Kevin M. Bridges in

Page 476

Union County District Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 23 August 1999.

This is an appeal of a contempt order and judgment against plaintiff mother in a URESA action to register New York court orders for child support against defendant father, a North Carolina resident. See N.C. Gen.Stat. § 52A-1, et seq. (repealed effective 1 January 1996). Plaintiff-appellant Andrews, the mother, and defendant-appellee Paugh, the father, were divorced in New York on 29 November 1977. Without objection, the New York courts found their seven children to be children of the marriage, granted custody to the mother, and ordered the father to pay weekly child support until the children reached eighteen. The father did not contest paternity in two enforcement actions brought by the mother in New York in 1978 and 1984.

Prior to 1987, the father moved to North Carolina. On 15 June 1987, the mother, through a New York IV-D agency, filed a URESA request to register the New York support order in Union County and collect over $5000.00 in back support payments. The order was registered by operation of law pursuant to N.C. Gen.Stat. § 52A-29. The father challenged confirmation of the order pursuant to N.C. Gen.Stat. § 52A-30 at an 18 September 1987 hearing. At the hearing, he orally moved for blood testing of the mother and the four remaining minor children in order to ascertain paternity.

The district court allowed the motion for blood testing and entered an order to compel testing on 21 December 1987. The mother and her children failed to appear for testing at a New York site on two separate occasions. On 25 March 1988, the father filed a motion in Union County asking the district court to either dismiss the URESA action or again order blood testing. After the mother failed to appear at a hearing on the motion, the court ordered on 16 December 1988 that the entire URESA action be dismissed with prejudice and that the mother cease and desist from all further support collections. The mother did not appeal the order.

[135 N.C.App. 436] Counsel for the New York IV-D agency stated in a 13 March 1989 letter to Union County court officials that the mother felt the testing was " frivolous" and embarrassing for her children. Counsel also protested the dismissal of the case, arguing that: (1) dismissal was improper because the mother was neither present nor represented by counsel at the hearing (the father contends that the mother was represented by an assistant district attorney present at the hearing); (2) Union County court lacked jurisdiction because the URESA action had not been registered; and (3) the attempted withdrawal of the URESA action had been improperly ignored. Through New York child support enforcement authorities and the Social Security Administration, the mother continued to collect child support.

On 18 May 1998, ten years after the Union County cease and desist order, the father filed a Motion in the Cause and for Contempt in Union County District Court. The motion requested that the court order the mother to appear and show cause why she should not be held in contempt, to notify proper authorities to cease and desist from collections activities, to repay intercepted disability funds to the father, and to pay punitive damages and attorney's fees. Following a hearing on the motion, the court made the following relevant findings: (1) the mother's attempted withdrawal of the URESA action was improper; (2) the father timely challenged the URESA order; (3) the order was registered, but never confirmed, giving the court jurisdiction under URESA; (4) the father had the right under URESA to request blood testing; (5) the mother failed to submit to a valid court order compelling testing; (6) under URESA, by acting in a...

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