Reforming North Carolina's Child Support System

Posted by Jonathan Jerkins | Oct 25, 2017 | 0 Comments

Child support payments and child support enforcement are some of the most common sources of areas of contention in family law cases in North Carolina. The goal of child support is to provide for the child; however, disputes between the parents can get in the way of what is best for the child. Even after child support awards are approved by the court, it can be a further battle to enforce child support payments.

The North Carolina legislature is looking to do a complete overhaul of the child welfare system. After a federal report identified a number of ways the North Carolina child welfare system was underperforming, the state issued a request for proposals to “develop a plan of action to systematically reform the child welfare system in North Carolina and to allow for better supervision and administration of social services programs in the State's 100 counties.”

This would include reforms to child support establishment, child support enforcement, interstate child support cases, and paternity testing. It's too early to say what reforms to the state's child support system would look like but may include increasing the number of families with formal child support orders and increasing support enforcement.

Child support payments in North Carolina are based on providing for the “reasonable needs” of the child. Child support is a shared obligation of both parents and the child should receive the same proportion of income the child would have received if the parents lived together and jointly provided for the child.

For most families, the amount of court-ordered child support will be determined by the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines. This includes a number of factors, including the number of shared children, other dependent children, income, health care costs, child care expenses, and other child support obligations. Based on this information, the child support order will provide for the amount and frequency of payment.

A number of parents raising children on their own never go through the process to get a child support order. This may be because they want nothing to do with the other parent even if it means no financial support, or problems locating or contacting the other parent. Some parents rely on a spoken agreement to provide for the child, without the enforcement potential of a court order. Child support reform may look to address the number of parents without a formal agreement for child support.

Enforcing Child Support Payments

After an award for child support is established by the courts, it may be a further battle to enforce those payments. It generally requires the custodial parent to take legal action to force the other parent to make payments. Child Support Services (CSS) has a number of ways to enforce support orders. This includes income withholding and interception of tax refunds.

Through income withholding, support funds can be deducted from the noncustodial parent's paycheck, as well as unemployment benefits, Social Security benefits, veteran's disability benefits, and workers' comp benefits. Other enforcement methods include a suspended driver's license, intercepting state tax refunds, and credit bureau reporting.

According to the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, in 2016, $33 billion in child support was collected by state and tribal child support programs. However, even with enforcement, a lot of child support obligations remain unpaid. Possible changes to the child support enforcement system may include additional enforcement methods or better cooperation with other states when noncustodial parents move out of North Carolina.

Jerkins Family Law

If you have questions about making changes to a child support order or enforcing child support obligations, please do not hesitate to call Jerkins Family Law for assistance. JFL is committed to providing the passionate representation you need. We understand child support establishment and enforcement to make sure you are getting what you need to take care of your kids. Visit our dedicated child support page and contact us today so we can guide you to a better solution.

About the Author

Jonathan Jerkins

Jonathan "Jay" Jerkins, a native of Raleigh, North Carolina, intentionally focuses his practice on all aspects of North Carolina family law litigation and negotiations. Jay was admitted to the practice of law in North Carolina in 2014.


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