Recourse Available When Child Support Obligations Go Unpaid in North Carolina

In divorce and separation situations that involve children, child support obligations are often a source tension and confrontation. The continuing nature of child support creates opportunities for parents to persist with hostilities after divorce, especially for the non-custodial parent, who can refuse to pay their share of their child’s support despite court orders. Indeed, in 2014 alone, about $280 million worth of child support ordered by North Carolina courts went unpaid. When these support obligations go unfulfilled, children are the ones to suffer, as the custodial parent often has to cut back on family needs in an attempt to maintain a balanced budget.

Consequences of Not Paying Child Support

The North Carolina legal system places heavy emphasis on protecting the wellbeing of children of separated parents. Ensuring that a custodial parent has the financial support to take care of their children is of critical importance. Therefore, the courts provide a number of methods through which child support obligations can be enforced. An individual harmed by the failure to pay child support can take advantage of these methods in order to ensure that both parents are contributing to the important responsibility of providing for their children.

Legal Options

When a parent fails to pay all or some of their child support obligations required by court order, they are said to be in “arrears.” A custodial parent has two resources to turn to when a non-custodial parent owing child support falls into arrears.

The first option is to hire a lawyer to present a contempt action to the court, regardless of whether those payments were agreed upon in a consent order or decided by a judge. In addition, an individual can file such contempt proceedings on their own. If doing so on your own, you should seek the assistance of North Carolina’s Child Support Enforcement Program, which provides assistance to families who are not receiving child support payments.

A contempt proceeding can have a number of positive results for a family that is not receiving child support due to them. If the court finds the non-paying parent in contempt, there are a number of methods by which the court can collect or incentivize payment. These methods include:

  • Withholding the non-paying parent’s income by requesting that their employer take a certain amount out of the parent’s paycheck;
  • Withholding from other sources of income, such as tax returns or income from Social Security, unemployment insurance, workers compensation, and other sources;
  • Levying on bank accounts, or putting a lien on personal property, like a car, or real property, like land;
  • Suspending the parent’s driver’s license or other permits, such as those required for an occupation or for hunting and fishing;
  • Revoking the parent’s passport;
  • Reporting the arrears to credit bureaus, which affects credit scores; and/or
  • Issuing fines or jail time.

Legal Representation

Although it is possible to file a contempt action for child support on your own, hiring a lawyer experienced in North Carolina family law can help can facilitate the process and obtain needed child support payments. The attorneys at Remington & Dixon, PLLC understand North Carolina child support law, and the legal remedies available to enforce child support payments.  We care about children and will work on their behalf to ensure that child support obligations are met. Call today for a consultation at (704) 817-9050.


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.



"*" indicates required fields

With a Consultation

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.