North Carolina Child Support Enforcement

North Carolina Child Support Enforcement

According to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 300,000 North Carolina families are forced to struggle to make ends meet each year because of non-custodial parents who do not pay child support.

The North Carolina Child Support Enforcement (CSE) has been given legislative authority to collect current and past-due child support through enforcement remedies. These remedies can be in the form of court actions as well as administrative actions, which are actions that can be taken without formal court proceedings.

Child support payments are based upon custody categories and an income-sharing method derived from the gross income of both parents. The North Carolina Child Support Guidelines take into consideration variables such as childcare, financial support and medical support for the children in these families. If a parent intentionally neglects or refuses to provide adequate support for his or her biological or adopted child, that parent is guilty of a misdemeanor and may be fined, or imprisoned for up to six months, or both.

If a parent does not pay child support, past due payments will accumulate, and the court has the authority to hold a child support obligor in contempt for nonpayment.

The CSE agency may collect these payments, called arrears, by:

  • Putting liens on the parent’s personal and real property
  • Intercepting his or her state and federal tax refunds
  • Seizing bank accounts
  • Intercepting unemployment and disability benefits
  • Revoking a parent’s drivers and other business, professional and recreational licenses
  • Filing a legal action against him or her in court, which can lead to jail

The duty of support continues until a child turns 18 years of age. North Carolina General Statutes 110-129(2) and 50-13.4(c) provide for the extension of CSE services beyond age 18 when a child is still in primary or secondary school and until such time that he/she graduates, otherwise ceases to attend school on a regular basis, fails to make satisfactory academic progress, or reaches age 20, whichever comes first.

The state laws in North Carolina are complemented by federal mandates that require all states to enact laws and establish procedures regarding paternity, child support payments and collection. The best way to avoid any court actions is, of course, to make all child support payments on time.

Our law firm recognizes that children benefit from positive, ongoing relationships with both parents. We put children first by helping both parents assume responsibility for the economic and social well-being, health and stability of their children.

How a Family Lawyer Near You Can Help

If you are a parent with custody of your child who is not married to your child’s other parent, receiving child support is likely a very important and necessary component of your child’s care. Without a child support payment, you may be unable to afford basic care items for your child, like food, shelter, and clothing, or may be unable to continue providing your child with the things he or she is accustomed to, such as music lessons or involvement in sports.

You should know that if a North Carolina judge has issued a child support order on your child’s behalf, you have legal recourse to ensure that the order is enforced. While taking action against your child’s other parent to enforce a child support order can be emotional, doing so is within your child’s best interest. North Carolina child support lawyers can help.

Resources for Enforcing Child Support

If your child support order is not being obeyed, there are resources that you can turn to that can help you recover the money that you and your child are entitled to. These include both the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and Wake County’s Child Support Enforcement Program.

In addition to the above, there are also federal resources available. Furthermore, you can reach out to a child support attorney for more information about how to enforce a child support order, and what your best options are for taking action.

Enforcement Tools

When a parent is delinquent on his or her child support payments, there are a number of enforcement tools and methods that may be employed, with the help of one or more of the above agencies listed. According to The United States Department of Justice, under federal law — the Child Support and Recovery Act of 1992 and the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act of 1998— failing to pay child support is prohibited. As such, a local child support office may do any of the following.

  • Intercept a federal tax income return, unemployment, and disability payments. In the event that a person is failing to pay child support payments as dictated by a court order, a child support office, through the state, may intercept a federal income tax return, garnish it, and reallocate it to the appropriate parent for any missing or late payments. This is also true for disability payments and unemployment benefits.
  • Place restrictions on an offender’s passport. The state also has the power to place restrictions on an offender’s passport, preventing him or her from leaving the country until past child support payments are made in full.
  • Garnish wages. One of the most common courses of action that is taken against a person who fails to comply with a court child support order is the garnishment of the person’s wages. The state can consult directly with the person’s employer to ensure that all wages are allocated to past or late child support payments first.
  • Suspend a driver’s license. Like placing restrictions upon a passport, the state also has the power to revoke or suspend the driver’s license of a person who has violated a child support order.
  • Seize bank accounts. Money can be seized directly from the bank account of a person who has defaulted on a child support order.
  • Hold the offender in contempt of court. Finally, a person who is not making his or her child support payments on time may be held in contempt of court. To be held in contempt of court is a criminal act that means that the person violated a court order. A contempt of court conviction can result in fines, jail time, and other penalties.

In cases where the amount owed to the receiving parent totals more than $5,000, or if child support payments have not been made for a duration equal to or more than one year, or the parent who is to pay has left the state, then the U.S. Office of the Inspector General is authorized to intervene. Keep in mind: if you are in violation of a child support order and the U.S. Office of the Inspector General takes action against you, the penalties can be harsh. Potential penalties include both prison time (six months for the first offense, two years if child support has not been paid for two years) and a large fine of up to $250,000.

Can a Child Support Order Be Changed?

Many people wonder whether a child support order can be changed once a judge has issued it. Because a child support calculator is used to calculate a support order, it can be difficult to change that order unless your situation has changed dramatically. For example, if a person changes to a job that pays significantly more or less than his or her previous place of employment, modification of a child support order may be warranted. If you believe that your existing child support order should be modified, you should consult with a North Carolina child support lawyer to discuss the modification as soon as possible.

If you are a person who is in a situation where you cannot make your child support payments and are facing one of the enforcement methods listed above, it is advised that you too seek legal counsel to learn about your rights and how you can modify your child support order if you cannot make payments. Even if you cannot afford child support payments, you are obligated under the law to make these payments unless a modification is issued by court order.

North Carolina Child Support Lawyers Can Help You

If you need a child support payment in order to care of your child, but have not received one or more per your court order, you have the right to take action. Taking action to recover a child support payment can help you and your child retain a quality standard of living. Because understanding child support enforcement laws can be complicated, you are encouraged to reach out to an experienced North Carolina child support lawyer as soon as possible, and well before your situation becomes dire.

At Charles R. Ullman & Associates, PLLC our attorneys are ready to get to work on your case today. You can contact us online to schedule your consultation, or call us for quick information.


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