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Legal Information: North Carolina

Child Support

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Updated: 
February 6, 2020

If the paying parent fails to pay support, what can be done to enforce the child support order?

Below are several things that a court can do to enforce a child support order but other ways may be available as well.  To figure out what may likely happen in your case, you may want to talk to a lawyer.  The judge can do one or more of the following:

  1. order the paying parent to post a bond (leave a sum of money with the clerk of superior court) that could be given to the parent receiving child support if the support isn’t paid;
  2. order the paying parent to have his/her employer deduct the money from his/her wages, income or salary and have it sent directly to the parent receiving child support. This is known as an “assignment of wages” or “income withholding;”
  3. order the paying parent to give to the parent receiving support certain personal property and/or land/real estate;
  4. have the paying parent arrested and be required to post bail in an amount set by the judge;
  5. “attach” the paying parent’s assets, which basically means that the parent receiving support becomes a creditor and gets a lien against the paying parent’s assets. The parent can enforce the lien just as any creditor could. (A lien is a legal claim upon the property of another person to secure the payment of a debt).  Note: The child can also become a creditor against the paying parent if the parent fraudulently gives away property or assets in order to hide them from being used to pay off his/her child support arrears;
  6. issue an injunction to order the paying parent to do something or to not do something.  For example, the paying parent may be ordered not to sell certain property or remove money from bank accounts, etc.;
  7. appoint a “receiver,” which is a person the judge chooses to control the paying parent’s money and property and see that the support is paid;
  8. hold the paying parent in civil contempt for failing to make payments (if you file a petition for contempt) and the judge can sentence the parent to the punishments available for criminal contempt,1 which is a fine of up to $500, imprisonment up to 30 days (or up to 120 days if the sentence is suspended as long as the parent pays), or both;2 and/or
  9. suspend the paying parent’s license(s) after s/he becomes one month behind in support.3

You can talk to a lawyer or your local child support enforcement agency about all the ways you can collect past due child support.  For legal referrals, go to our NC Finding a Lawyer page.

1 NCGS § 50-13.4(f)
2 NCGS § 5A-12(a)(3)
3 NCGS § 50-13.12(b)