Raising a child is hard work. It’s even harder when you’re divorced, working 40+ hours a week, and struggling to make ends meet. But wait, don’t you receive child support from your ex? You should, but your ex has decided to ignore making payments.
If you find yourself in a constant fight to collect child support ordered by the court, you’re one of millions. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2013 that approximately 26% of child support payments are never made and 28% are only partially paid.
So, what now? If your ex is failing to make payments, you have a few options in North Carolina.
Child Support Enforcement (CSE), a national program established by Congress in 1975, ensures that both parents are responsible for the support of their children to the best of their ability. The program, now known in our state as Child Support Services (CSS), provides services to the custodians of minor children, no matter the income level.
When a court order has already been established, CSS can manage the collection and distribution of all ordered child support payments. To enforce court orders, CSS agents can initiate legal action against the non-custodial parent (NCP), withhold support payments from the NCP’s wages, and intercept the NCP’s tax refunds.
Other actions used by CSS include:
- Monthly billing to NCPs not under income withholding;
- Filing court action against NCPs who have not paid support as ordered;
- Credit bureau reporting of all child support obligations handled by CSS;
- Interception of state and federal tax refunds; or
- Liens on real or personal property the NCP owns.
If you aren’t receiving child support payments as ordered by a Craven County court, call the county’s CSS office at (252) 514-4807. You can also apply online to begin your child support enforcement case and receive a caseworker. But, please be aware that unless you qualify for a fee waiver, a $25 annual fee must be collected to use the program.
Choosing CSS to handle the issue might work for many, but you should keep in mind that CSS is a government agency. It, like similar agencies found at every level of government, is often overwhelmed with cases and strapped for time. CSS could take weeks or months to help you get results, but what if you can’t wait that long?
Here’s where consulting with an experienced attorney should be considered. An attorney will focus solely on your case and will fight on your behalf in court. He or she can help you execute several options to recover child support payments, including:
Filing a motion for judgment: This motion asks the court to enter a judgment against the non-paying parent for the total amount of child support owed. Once you’ve obtained a judgment, this opens several different methods for collection.
Requesting a wage garnishment order: This court order will instruct the non-paying parent’s employer to deduct a specified amount from every paycheck they earn and send that money to you, either directly or through CSS.
Requesting a writ of execution: This order allows local law enforcement to seize the non-paying parent’s assets, sell them, and then transfer money raised from the sale to you as payment against the balance of the child support you’re owed.
Filing a motion for contempt: This motion will ask the court to find the non-paying parent violated a court order and is in contempt of court, which can lead to jail time for the offending parent. The threat of imprisonment may persuade the other parent to take their obligation seriously and pay what they owe.
Attempting to collect payments from a spouse can be a hassle even with a court order in place. Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone who knows the ins and outs of the court system on your side?
For more information on spousal support or to schedule a consultation, please contact Greene Wilson Crow & Smith Attorneys at Law by calling (252) 634-9400 or visiting nctriallawyers.com.
(Sources: North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services; U.S. Census Bureau; Divorce Magazine; Money Crashers; and The Spruce.)