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Options to enforce child support orders

A divorce can be difficult when children are involved. This is particularly true when one former spouse fails to follow through on child support obligations. Here is a review of some of the options a parent in North Carolina may have when attempting to enforce a child support order.

In North Carolina, the standard child support guidelines are binding unless a party can demonstrate to a court that they should be modified in some way. While this provides some needed leeway for parents to arrange a child support program that works well for everyone, it also provides a basis for the enforceability of the child support order.

As North Carolina's Health and Human Services describes, child support guidelines are based on the financial needs of children and both parents' ability to meet those needs. A child support arrangement can be reached by both parents or imposed through a court order. Unfortunately, having a child support order is no guarantee that it will be followed. 

As the North Carolina's Child Support Handbook explains, the consequences for failing to abide by a child support order can be severe. If the custodial parent serves a Motion and Order to Show Cause, the non-compliant parent can be brought into court and must explain their failure to pay. Non-compliant parents may face penalties if they are unable to demonstrate to the judge that they were unable to make payments. Through legal channels, a non-compliant parent can have wages garnished, tax returns seized or have property placed under a lien to ensure that child support payments are being made.

When payments under a child support order have not been made for over 90 days, a judge can order the driver's license bureau to revoke the non-compliant parent's driver's license. Similarly, after 90 days, the non-compliant parent's professional licenses can be revoked through the state governing boards.

Parents who need help enforcing their child support orders can receive assistance through North Carolina's Child Support Services.

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