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How Are North Carolina Child Support Orders Enforced?

The North Carolina child support enforcement program has several options to ensure parents follow through with their court-ordered payments.

When North Carolina parents get divorced or otherwise choose to raise their children separately, family law courts may order child support payments. The purpose of such awards is to ensure that both parents bear the financial responsibility of raising their children. The North Carolina child support enforcement program is tasked with ensuring parents fulfill these court-ordered obligations, and has numerous options it may exercise to encourage people to pay in full and on time.

Income withholding

Perhaps the most effective method for ensuring parents make their court-ordered child support payments, people may seek to establish income withholding orders. This specifies an amount to parents’ employers that they must withhold from their paychecks and forward to child support services. If people are not working, but draw unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, Social Security or veterans’ disability benefits, orders may be initiated to withhold a portion of those funds to apply toward their child support obligations.

License revocations

Should people fall behind on their child support payments by 90-days or more, they may be subject to licensing revocations. Under such circumstances, family law judges may see fit to revoke parents’ driving privileges, often until they are caught up or have made other arrangements. The state’s child support enforcement program may also seek to have parents’ professional or recreational licenses suspended until they establish a payment plan or pay off their debts. This includes real estate, nursing or physician, and construction licenses, as well as hunting and fishing licenses.

Garnishment of tax refunds

When parents are at least $50 in arrears, the state’s child support enforcement program has the option to intercept all or a portion of their state tax refunds. The garnished funds are then applied toward their past due balance. Child support enforcement may garnish the federal tax refunds of parents who owe $500 or more in past due support, provided they or their children are not receiving public assistance. In cases when people or their children are getting such aid, parents who owe $150 may have their federal tax refunds intercepted.

Contempt of court

Since child support awards are court-ordered, parents are expected to comply with them. Particularly in situations when people willfully choose not to make their child support payments, child support enforcement or the other parents may pursue court action. Depending on the circumstances, judges may find people in these cases in contempt. This may result in jail time, fines or other legal issues.

When people in North Carolina fall behind or choose not to pay child support, it may compromise the other parents’ ability to provide and care for their children. While there are enforcement options available, navigating the process is not always straightforward. Therefore, people who are owed child support or who are facing other such family law issues may benefit from working with a legal representative. An attorney may help them understand their options and obligations, as well as look out for their interests and those of their children.