When parents divorce, child support is often crucial for ensuring that shared children receive needed financial assistance. But what happens if a child’s parents were never married in the first place?
As in other states, in North Carolina a parent of a child or children born out of wedlock may be able to receive child support payments. Often, the first step in this process is establishing the child’s paternity through either agreement or genetic testing.
1. How can parents establish paternity?
The court must be able to legally identify a child’s genetic father to create a child support order. Establishing paternity can happen voluntarily, with both parents signing an Affidavit of Parentage. However, if parties disagree about who the father is, genetic testing may be necessary to determine paternity.
2. What is genetic testing?
NC Child Support Services uses genetic testing to determine the likelihood that an alleged father is a child’s biological parent. The child, child’s mother and alleged father take a cheek tissue swab test that allows laboratory technicians to decide paternity. Lab results are usually available within four to six weeks.
3. Are there other reasons for pursuing paternity?
In addition to accessing needed child support, establishing paternity can help children by providing important information about family medical history and creating bonds with extended family.
In some cases, a father may refuse to pay child support even after establishing paternity. However, there are a variety of methods CSS can use to collect payments, including withholding tax refunds, garnishing income and intercepting certain types of benefits. Non-paying fathers may also face penalties such as property liens, denial of passport or revocation of a driver’s or occupational license.