North Carolina Child Support Enforcement

Not Paying Child Support

Obtaining a child support order doesn't guarantee the noncustodial parent will pay child support as the judge ordered. There are many times a parent might make partial payments, skip payments, or simply not pay at all. If this happens, there are a number of tools at your disposal to force the other parent to make payments.

Contact DHHS

In North Carolina, child support enforcement services are provided by the Child Support Enforcement Program (CSE). Payments are made to families either by direct deposit or debit card.

What Can CSE Do to Help Enforce a Support Order?

The CSE can petition the court to get a parent to pay their child support including:

  • Withholding income from a parent's wages, social security, unemployment, workers compensation or veterans disability compensation;
  • Placing liens on a parent's real or personal property;
  • Garnishing state and federal tax refunds ($50 behind for state taxes, $500 behind for Federal taxes);
  • Withhold child support from a paycheck or from unemployment benefits;
  • Garnish worker's compensation benefits;>
  • Suspending driving, occupational, sporting and/or recreational licenses (If behind 90 days or more in payments);
  • Credit bureau reports;
  • Bench warrants for arrest;
  • Passport denial
  • File contempt of court actions, which could result in a jail sentence.
Criminal Prosecution

A parent can't be arrested solely for not making child support payments. However, the custodial parent can ask for a support hearing. At the hearing, the non-custodial parent will need to explain why he or she can't make payments.

If the court decides the non-custodial parent could pay some or all of the amount owed, the payer can be held in contempt. Penalties for contempt may include any of the enforcement methods listed here (like suspending a driver’s license), plus fines, jail time, and other penalties

Modifying an Order

If a parent is having problems making payments, he or she should contact the court immediately. The parent can always seek to modify their existing support order. This will require going back to court and explaining to the judge why you can’t make your payments. Only a judge can change the amount you owe under a support order. Additionally, if either parent receives public assistance, the Friend of the Court automatically reviews the child support order amount every 36 months.

The following table highlights the main provisions of North Carolina's child support enforcement laws.

See also Child Support Enforcement FAQs, How Do I Locate a Parent for Child Support, Enforcement and Collection of Back Child Support .

Code Section NCGS Article 9, §110-128, et seq.
Who is Responsible? Both parents
Agencies North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Child Support Enforcement Division (CSE)
Remedies Available
  • Withholding income from a parent's wages;
  • Placing liens on a parent's real or personal property;
  • Garnishing state and federal tax refunds;
  • Withhold child support from a paycheck or from unemployment benefits;
  • Garnish worker's compensation benefits;
  • Suspending driving, occupational, sporting and/or recreational licenses;
  • Credit bureau reports;
  • Bench warrants for arrest;
  • Passport denial or revocation;
  • File contempt of court actions, which could result in a jail sentence.

Federal Enforcement

If the non-custodial parent moves out of North Carolina, the support order can still be enforced in any other U.S. state under the Uniform Federal Family Support Act. If you need help locating the other parent, the federal government has a Federal Parent Locator Service .

Other Resources

Child support enforcement laws are complicated. You may wish to contact a family law attorney in your area.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.