Collecting Past Due Child Support in North Carolina

Written by Jonathan Breeden

December 22, 2019

Many parents are ready, willing, and able to meet their financial obligations to support their children, but there are others who evade their duties. Whether your child’s other parent doesn’t pay in full or skips child support payments entirely, you’re in a very difficult financial position without the funds you need. It may come as some relief to know that North Carolina family law provides you with options for collecting past-due child support.

A North Carolina child custody lawyer can help shoulder the legal burdens and assist you in getting the back child support payments. With offices in Raleigh, Garner, Angier, and Smithfield, NC the Breeden Law Office can review your circumstances, advise you on the state’s child support enforcement laws, and fight to get everything you legally deserve.

Call us at (919) 205-5254 or contact us online to set up a consultation.

Overview of North Carolina’s Child Support System

Before collecting past-due child support, you must have the legal right to do so. This requires a valid child support order issued by a court.

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It’s possible to enter an agreed child support order, but the court will decide the matter after a hearing if you cannot reach a compromise. In general, the amount of child support is determined according to North Carolina’s child support guidelines.

If you were never married to your child’s other parent, you can still obtain a child support order, but you must first establish legal paternity. This can be done in one of two ways:

  • Presenting a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity, in which both parents agree to and sign their acceptance of the child’s parentage; or,
  • Filing a petition to determine paternity in court, where the judge will hold a hearing and review DNA test results to decide the matter.
  • Or filing a complaint for child support wherein you allege the other parent to be the father and ask a Judge to declare him to be the father by the father’s consent or by DNA testing.

Legal Effect of Child Support Order

Once signed by the judge, a child support order has the full force and effect of law. The process of collecting regular payments from the noncustodial parent and distributing them to the custodial parent is typically very efficient: Payments are often deducted from the payor’s income and forwarded to the other parent according to the terms of the order.

If circumstances change, either parent can request the court to modify the child support order to reflect the new situation.

When the noncustodial parent doesn’t comply with the child support order, they can potentially be held in contempt of court. A parent’s failure to live up to financial obligations is a very serious matter in the eyes of North Carolina courts, so there may be civil and criminal consequences.

Enforcing Child Support Obligations

In addition to court sanctions for parents who don’t pay, North Carolina has various legal options for collecting past due child support. An attorney can assist with preparation of documents, filing them in court, and representing you at court hearings related to:

  • Income Withholding: If you didn’t already secure deductions from the noncustodial parent’s wages, the first, most effective step is to make the arrangements right away. Employers must comply with a court order for income withholding, or they may face legal consequences as well as the nonpaying parent.
  • Holding Income Tax Refunds: You may be able to obtain back child support payments by intercepting and taking amounts from the other parent’s federal and state income tax refunds.
  • Monthly Billing: Another child support enforcement method involves sending a bill to the noncustodial parent, representing the amount that person owes. If they don’t pay past due child support, you can initiate collection actions and report the person to credit bureaus.
  • Liens on Property: It may be possible to collect past due amounts by placing a lien on the personal assets or real estate of your child’s other parent. Though you may not get payment immediately, the lien is an encumbrance that will affect the ability to sell or get a mortgage.
  • Bank Account Attachment: In some situations, you may be able to get a court order to attach the individual’s checking, savings, or other bank accounts.
  • Other Enforcement Options: The details depend on your specific situation, but other methods of getting back payments of child support may include intercepting state lottery winnings, revoking the person’s passport, or suspending a professional, driver’s, hunting, or fishing license.

A Child Custody and Support Attorney Can Help

If you need assistance with collecting past due child support, it’s essential to have a skilled, knowledgeable family law attorney to advocate on your behalf throughout the process. Attorney Jonathan Breeden has more than 15 years of experience representing clients throughout North Carolina in a wide range of family law matters, including enforcement of child support obligations.

Call us at (919) 205-5254 now or contact us online to set up a consultation.


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