Custody in North Carolina is divided between legal custody – for making life decisions – and physical custody, which relates to where the child actually lives. A completely noncustodial parent has neither legal nor physical custody.
What Must a Noncustodial Parent Do?
North Carolina Child Support Services (CSS) requires that noncustodial parents (NCPs) do the following:
- Respond to all requests for information and appointments
- Notify CSS of any changes in name, address, employment, or custody
- Ask questions when they need information
- Know their rights; NCPs have the right to seek legal counsel
- Process child support payments through Centralized Collections Operations
Failure to comply with any of these can result in court action.
What Happens If NCP Doesn’t Pay Child Support?
If a noncustodial parent fails to pay the full amount of child support, he or she can face contempt of court charges. These charges can result in significant fines and, under some circumstances, jail time. On the other hand, an NCP who cannot make payments can obtain an attorney and file for a modification of the order if there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the order was entered. Similarly, the custodial parent can file for an enforcement order to obtain the missing payments.
What If the NCP Relocates to Another State and Stops Paying?
The Federal Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act of 1998 (DPPA), amending the Child Support Recovery Act, allows for felony punishment for a parent who moves out of state with the intention of evading child support payments if the debt is outstanding for a year or more or exceeds $5,000. Parents who owe $10,000 or more, or fail to pay for two years, may face up to two years in prison. They can also be subject to fines and responsible for making restitution for the unpaid support.
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Child Custody FAQs
What if the noncustodial parent really can’t pay?
What does it take to be convicted under federal law for nonpayment?
In order to convict a noncustodial parent under the Dead Beats act, the prosecution must prove:
- The NCP willfully failed to pay the required support
- There is a known and past-due child support obligation
- The debt has remained unpaid for longer than one year or is in an amount greater than $5,000
- The obligation is for support for a child residing in a state other than that of the NCP
What is a willful failure to pay?