Noncustodial Parent – What It Means and What You Need to Know

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.

Call Us Today to Speak with a Family Law Lawyer in North Carolina

If you have questions about child support or noncustodial parent issues, you can connect with an experienced family law attorney. Schedule an appointment with Remington & Dixon today at 704-247-7110.


Child Custody FAQs

What if the noncustodial parent really can’t pay?

There is a rebuttable presumption that the noncustodial parent can pay the ordered child support. A nonpaying parent must prove that he or she could not make the required payments during the period when payments were not made in order to possibly avoid being held in contempt of court. However, this will not change the amount of child support owed each month and the NCP must seek modification of their child support obligation to have the amount changed..

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?

The DPPA does not define willfulness, and it cannot be presumed from the failure to pay alone. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the failure to make any payment was willful at the time the support was due and that the NCP has sufficient money to pay it. The sufficient funds prong is met if the NCP had insufficient funds caused by the NCPs voluntary and intentional act without justification in light of all the financial circumstances of the case.


Are consultations free?

While we offer a free consultation on traffic matters, criminal matters, and most professional license defense cases, we charge a fee for family law consultations to personalize our consultations to your specific needs. To learn about our fee structure, please get in touch.

Where can I get legal advice?

We recommend meeting with an attorney. While there is free legal help available for North Carolina residents from pro bono resources for civil matters, and public defenders for criminal cases, the best way to access tailored advice is to hire a lawyer.

Can I hire you if I’m in another state?

This is done on a case by case basis if you are involved in a family law, criminal, or professional disciplinary matter that involves another jurisdiction.



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