Child support enforcement (CSE) services are available to anyone who is the custodial parent (CP) or guardian of a child under the age of 18 years old. To receive child support services, the CP or guardian must simply complete an application and pay the $25 fee. Recipients of Work First Family Assistance (WFFA) or Medicaid will automatically be referred to the child support unit and must cooperate with child support or possibly lose these benefits. Child support offers five types of assistance:
- Location of the non-custodial parent
- Paternity establishment
- Establishment of a support order
- Collection and distribution of support
- Enforcement of the support order
CSE interfaces with many various agencies to help locate the non-custodial parent (NCP): Department of Motor Vehicles, Employment Security Commission, Wildlife Commission, Electronic Parent Locator Network , National New Hire Directory, Department of Corrections, Financial Institutions, and Eligibility Information System. Essential information in locating a NCP are full name, social security number, and date of birth. Information may include previous addresses and employers; parent’s names and address(es); and physical description of the NCP (including pictures). Although the CSE unit works diligently at locating NCPs, sometimes all the efforts are not productive. Community involvement can also play a key role in locating these parents.
The establishment of paternity goes beyond placing a legal responsibility upon the father to provide support. It also gives the child a sense of belonging along with certain legal rights and medical background information.
The easiest way to legally establish paternity is for the father to acknowledge paternity and sign an affidavit of parentage at the hospital at the time of birth or the local child support office afterwards. If the alleged father is unsure if the child is his biological child, he can request a paternity (DNA) test. This testing is currently performed at the local CSE office once a month by a state contract lab at a cost $30 per person, which must be paid prior to testing. Mother, father, and all children in question must be tested. Results are normally reported in 3-4 weeks after testing. If the test results are positive, we request that the NCP sign an affidavit of parentage and proceed with establishing a support order. Signed affidavits of parentage are submitted to vital records requesting the father’s name be added to the child’s birth certificate.
Some non-custodial parents try to run from their parental responsibility and will not visit the CSE office or submit to a paternity test. Workers can generate a civil or criminal summons against the NCP and have him/her appear in court, where the court can enter a default order if the NCP does not appear. This order can also include an order for support.
Establishment of a Support Order
Establishing a support order is the process of placing a non-custodial parent under a legal obligation to provide financial child support and/or medical insurance for the dependant child(ren). Legal parentage must be established prior to pursuit of and establishment of the support order. To determine the amount of the support, a calculation made by the NC guidelines is made. These guidelines are established by NC Conference of Chief District Court Judges. In order to make accurate calculations, parents are required to provide verification of all income. Credits are given during the calculation for other child support orders, other biological children in the home, medical insurance costs, and daycare costs. In order to receive these credits, verification of each must be provided. CSE agents will request that a NCP sign a Voluntary Support Agreement for the amount of the calculated support. This agreement may also require that a NCP provide medical insurance for the child when is it available at a reasonable cost and available through employment. This agreement must be reviewed and signed by an attorney and district court judge before it becomes a legal order. If the NCP does not consent to the terms of this agreement, the child support worker will issue a civil or criminal summons to have the NCP served to appear in court. During the court hearing, the CSE worker will present evidence that may result in the presiding district court judge ordering the NCP to provide financial and medical support to the dependent child(ren) in accord with NC guidelines.
Collection and Distribution of Support
All child support payments must be made through:
North CarolinaChild Support Centralized Collections (abr. NCCSCC)PO Box900006Raleigh,NC 27675
NCCSCC is responsible for collecting, crediting, prorating, and distributing child support payments. Payments can be mailed directly to NCCSCC by the non-custodial parent. To assure that the payment is posted to the correct account, the NCP should include their Master Participant Index (MPI) number and social security number on the check or money order. So CSE is fully informed and can accurately calculate overdue support, child support payments should not be addressed or given directly to the client. Payments can also be made by credit card at http://nc.smartchildsupport.com/default.asp. When directed by the court order, CSE will also implement a wage garnishment to withhold monies from the NCP’s income for use as child support payment. After the payment is received by NCCSCC, the money will be applied to the NCP’s single case or prorated and applied between cases if multiple cases exist for the NCP. Payments can not be designated to one specific case if multiple cases exist. After posting, a check for the amount of the payment is mailed to the client unless they receive public assistance. Custodial parents or guardians that receive WFFA have chosen to receive the WFFA payment in lieu of child support, and any payment received on these cases will be directed back to the state of NC as reimbursement for the public assistance funds that have been paid out.
Enforcement of the Support Order
For various reasons, some non-custodial parents may become delinquent in paying child support. Delinquency is defined as a payment being at least 30 days past due and totals a full months support. There are several enforcement remedies that a CSE caseworker can utilize to enforce the payment of child support. The most prevalent is income withholding. The NCP’s employer is notified by CSE as to the amount of support that should be withheld from each paycheck and remitted to NCCSCC on behalf of the NCP. CSE may also withhold from other sources of income like unemployment, worker’s compensation, insurance settlements, and some disability payments. Sometimes, a non-custodial parent is paid cash or "under the table" and income withholding is not available. CSE workers may issue a Motion and Order to Appear and Show Cause to be served on the responsible parent. After being served, the NCP must appear in court and explain why they should not be found in contempt. In court, the judge may find the NCP in civil contempt (NCP must pay a certain amount of money before being released from jail) or criminal contempt (NCP must be confined to jail for a certain number of days). Interception of the NCP’s tax return is another form of enforcement. For interception of state taxes, the NCP must be in arrears (unpaid support) by at least $50. Federal income tax interception requires a $150 arrearage for public assistance cases and $500 arrearage for non-public assistance cases. Other forms of enforcement are credit bureau reporting, revocation of licenses, and liens on real or personal property (including bank accounts).
Another responsibility of the enforcement unit is review and adjustment. Orders can be reviewed by request of then non-public assistance client or non-custodial parent every three years. Upon such a request, CSE will verify all information pertinent to recalculating the current amount of support and make calculations based on NC guidelines. If an adjustment is determined to be pursued, the NCP can voluntarily increase the order by signing a modified support order or CSE will file a motion requesting a district court judge to increase the order. Any request for review outside of the three year period, will be honored only under extreme circumstances.
Sometimes it may be necessary to involve another child support agency in the child support process if the NCP resides in a different state. The process for establishing, collecting, and enforcing support orders is basically the same as above, but the local CSE unit relies heavily upon the assistance of the other state to carry out the process for us. If an order is already in effect, but the NCP is reluctant to pay, then we must request to have our order registered in the state where the NCP resides, before the other state can begin any type of enforcement activity. As money is collected, the other state forwards the funds to NCCSCC to distribute as intrastate cases.
If you have questions or would like more information concerning child support enforcement, please visit the NC child support website at www.ncchildsupport.com or contact customer service at 1-800-992-9457. The local Scotland County child support can be reached at 910-277-2500.