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.
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.
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.
Jennifer is a founding partner at Remington & Dixon, PLLC. Jennifer concentrates her practice in the areas of family law, wills & estates, unemployment benefits appeals, and traffic. At Elon University School of Law, Jennifer was the vice president of the Public Interest Law Society and a member of the Family Law Society. During law school, Jennifer interned at the Elon University School of Law Field Placement Clinic with Legal Aid of North Carolina where she represented clients in domestic violence court proceedings.