How to Enforce a Child Support Order in NC

Written by Jonathan Breeden

July 10, 2023

When the court orders your ex to make child support payments, they should honor that agreement for your children’s sake. But dealing with your child’s other parent is rarely that simple. Fortunately, if they fail to make support payments, you have options to hold them accountable.

Here’s more on the money you should expect in child support payments and how you can enforce a North Carolina child support order.

How Does the Court Calculate Child Support?

The amount of money you could receive in child support depends on several factors. North Carolina law states that child support payments should meet the “reasonable needs of the child for health, education, and maintenance.”

The court also considers both parents’ income and standard of living, among other factors, when calculating child support payments.

Reasons Why Parents Fail to Pay Child Support

There are several reasons why your child’s other parent (obligor) might fall behind on support payments. In some cases, overdue payments indicate that the child support agreement might need to be modified to accommodate the other parent’s capabilities.

For example, the other parent might have recently been laid off or suffered a severe injury that limits their ability to earn a stable income. While these circumstances may impact the obligor’s ability to make payments, it’s their responsibility to request to have support payments modified.

Enforcing a NC Child Support Order

Once the court has established the support obligations, the obligor must make timely and correct payments. If they fail to uphold their end of the deal or refuse to make payments, you could file a contempt action with the court or contact child support services.

Child Support Enforcement Through the Court

Your first option to compel your child’s other parent to pay child support is filing a Motion for Order to Show Cause. This states that the obligor has willfully failed to comply with the terms of the child support order and details how much they owe.

Although this legal action can be done without an attorney, it’s highly recommended that you have a lawyer who knows how to file this motion correctly.

Once you file your Motion for Order to Show Cause, you and your ex must attend a hearing. During this hearing, your ex can explain why they disobeyed the support order. Likewise, you and your attorney can present facts that show how your ex has continually refused to make payments and how that has impacted your children’s well-being.

If your ex is found in contempt, the judge might order them to pay fines or even serve time in jail, depending on the situation.

Enforcement Through Child Support Services

You could also contact North Carolina’s Child Support Services (CSS) for help collecting child support payments. They can help you locate the child’s other parent, determine their needs, and identify what the other parent is willing to pay.

One way the CSS collects child support payments is through wage garnishment. This involves CSS taking money directly out of the obligor’s paycheck. If the obligor is not currently earning a regular paycheck or they are unemployed, the CSS will also collect their:

  • Unemployment insurance benefits
  • Workers’ compensation benefits
  • Social security benefits

No matter your situation, the CSS will try to find a way to enforce your child support order. They might even file a court action themselves, intercept federal and state tax refunds, or offset your child support payments by claiming the obligor’s property.

Your only expense when using the CSS is their $25 annual fee.

Contact an Attorney to Enforce Your Child Support Order 

You depend on child support payments to make ends meet. If your child’s other parent refuses to pay child support or their circumstances make them unable to do so, the court or the CSS will work to find a solution.

Contact our family law attorneys to help you obtain the child support you need to care for your family. Call the Breeden Law Office today at (919) 661-4970.


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