In 1975, the U.S. Congress established a national program called Child Support Enforcement (CSE) to ensure that parents met their responsibility to provide for their dependent children after a divorce. The national program coordinates with the appropriate authorities in every state to track down noncustodial parents and force them to pay court-order child support obligations.

Enforcement of Child Support Rulings in North Carolina

The North Carolina Division of Social Services has been designated the official coordinator for the national CSE program. The Division of Social Services maintains at least one Child Support Enforcement office in every county in North Carolina.

The collections enforcement process begins when a complaint is lodged at a county CSE office. The custodial parent will complete two forms—the Application for Child Support Services (DSS-4451) and the Child Support Supplemental Data Sheet (DSS-4688)—and submit them together with a $25 processing fee. The Division of Social Services will take it from there.

Recovering Support Payments from a Delinquent Spouse

A caseworker assigned to investigate your case will determine whether your ex-spouse is indeed delinquent in his child support payments. If he has failed to meet his obligations and his location is unknown, the national office and the offices in other states will search records to locate him.

Once the delinquent parent is located, he will be informed that his overdue child support payments need to be paid immediately to the North Carolina Child Support Centralized Collections office in Raleigh. If all outstanding payments are not made immediately, the Division of Social Services can take the following actions to recover the delinquent funds from your former spouse:

  • Notifying federal agencies to withhold federal tax refunds, Social Security benefits, veteran’s benefits, and federal retirement benefits.
  • Notifying state agencies—both in North Carolina and other states—to withhold tax refunds, unemployment benefits, and workers’ compensation payments.
  • Ordering garnishment of wages or salary income from employers in North Carolina or other states.
  • A levy, or seizure of money from bank or credit union accounts. This option may be used only if the parent has at least $1,000 overdue in child support or is at least six months behind in payments.
  • Seizure of other cash assets, such as insurance settlements or inheritance bequests.

The following punitive actions also can be used to convince the delinquent spouse to get serious about paying what he owes:

  • Adverse credit report notification. The failure to make timely child support payments can be reported to credit bureaus. This action may prevent your former spouse from obtaining a loan or a new credit card.
  • Denial or revocation of a passport. This is available only if the amount due exceeds $2,500, and is subject to review by the U.S. State Department.
  • Property liens. This option may be used only if the parent has at least $3,000 overdue in child support or is at least three months behind in payments. A lien blocks the sale or transfer of real estate that your ex-spouse may own. If he doesn’t deliver the past due payments quickly, the property may be sold against his wishes.
  • License revocations. If your ex-spouse is at least 90 days overdue in support payments, a judge can revoke his license to operate a motor vehicle. Your caseworker can also send notices to professional boards to ask that your former spouse’s license to work in some occupations be revoked.
  • Court action resulting in jail time. The case can be prosecuted as a criminal offense, if the amount owed is greater than one month’s child support and the payment is more than 30 days overdue.

Let Speaks Law Firm Help You

If you have further questions about securing overdue child support, contact the Wilmington divorce lawyers at Speaks Law Firm by calling 910-341-7570 or toll-free at 877-593-4233. We can work with you and the New Hanover County Child Support Enforcement office to get you the money you are owed for your children.

R. Clarke Speaks
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Trial Lawyer and Founder of Speaks Law Firm, P.C.
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