Enforcing Child Support Orders

During a difficult divorce or child custody battle, the custodial parent may be happy to finally get a court order that determines how much the supporting parent will have to provide. Generally, the supporting parent will be required to make regular monthly payments. The money is intended to provide for the basic necessities, support, and educational needs of the child. 

Unfortunately, just because a parent has a child support order in place does not necessarily mean that the other parent will make on-time payments. If the other parent is late on payments, not paying enough, or falsely claiming they do not have the money for child support, talk to your experienced North Carolina family law attorney about your options.

Child Support in North Carolina 

Under North Carolina General Statutes § 50-13.4, “the court shall determine the amount of child support payments by applying the presumptive guidelines.” The court can go outside of the guidelines in special circumstances or if the parents' income is greater than the maximum under the guidelines. 

Payments can be made directly to the custodial parent, to the clerk of the court, or made through the North Carolina Child Support Services (CSS). Child support payments to CSS include:

  • Direct payments.
  • Income withholding.
  • Interception of tax refunds.

Child support payments are then distributed to the custodial parent.

Enforcing Child Support in North Carolina 

There are a few options for enforcing child support payments in North Carolina. The primary way to enforce support obligations is through income withholding by the employer. The employer deducts a specified amount from the noncustodial parent's income that is designated for support. The deduction is sent to North Carolina Child Support Centralized Collections. 

Other sources of income can also be subject to withholdings, including: 

  • Unemployment insurance benefits (UIB), 
  • Workers' compensation, 
  • Social Security benefits, 
  • Retirement benefits,
  • Veteran's disability benefits, and
  • State and federal income tax refunds. 

How to Enforce Child Support Obligations

Custodial parents who are looking to enforce existing child support obligations can contact their family law attorneys for assistance. Parents can go to CCS or the courts to enforce support obligations and get payment. In addition to billing or income withholdings, support obligations can be enforced through:

  • Property seizure,
  • Levying a bank account, 
  • Placing a lien on property, 
  • Driver's license suspension, 
  • Passport denial, 
  • Revocation of wildlife license,
  • Professional license revocation,
  • Credit reporting, or 
  • Issuing a warrant for arrest.

Locating the Supporting Parent

In some cases, it may be difficult for the custodial parent to locate the noncustodial parent or establish paternity. The noncustodial parent may have moved, lives in another state, or is intentionally trying to hide from their child support obligations. 

Financial Support for Your Children

The other parent may make it seem like the children are getting enough financial support or their money troubles limit their ability to pay. However, it is important to remember that the money is for your children's benefit. The court has already ordered the amount to be paid regularly. Any change in the child support payments can limit the benefits to your child and their future opportunities. It is important to enforce the child support orders for the well being of your child. 

Modifications to the Child Support Orders

If the other parent needs to modify the child support order for financial reasons, like the loss of a job or catastrophic loss, it is up to the other parent to seek a modification from the courts. Many parents claim that they are having a difficult time coming up with the money and underpayments become the norm or stop all together. Until the other parent seeks a modification of the order, they are still responsible for making payments. 

Alternatively, if the financial situation of the other parent changes with an increase in income, the other parent can seek a modification to increase child support. A change in circumstances generally means there is a difference of 15% or more between the child support payable and child support based on the change in circumstances. 

For example, if the supporting spouse is promoted to a position and their salary increases from $70,000 a year to $100,000 a year, that may be enough of a change in circumstances to justify an increase in the child support payments. 

Child Support in Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy generally does not erase back child support payments or arrears. Child support is generally not a dischargeable debt in bankruptcy. If the noncustodial parent declares bankruptcy, they will still be responsible for their past child support obligations. 

Child Support and Custody Attorneys in Shelby, North Carolina

If you have any questions about child support, modifying child support orders, or enforcing child custody or support orders in North Carolina, contact the Caulder & Valentine Law Firm, PLLC in Shelby. Contact us online or by phone at 704-470-2440 today for a consultation.