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A closer look at how North Carolina collects past due child support

North Carolina has long adhered to a collection model known as income withholding in recognition of the degree to which custodial parents rely on child support payments to help make ends meet and the havoc that can result when noncustodial parents fail to meet their payment obligations.

For those unfamiliar with income withholding, it is essentially  a process in which employers automatically deduct a specified amount of child support from an employee's paycheck each pay period and remit the money to the state's Child Support Centralized Collection.

As successful as income withholding has and continues to be, the unfortunate reality is that it still doesn't catch all delinquent parents.

This certainly isn’t to say, however, that the North Carolina Child Support Enforcement Agency is without other options. To the contrary, it has a host of tools at its disposal to help collect child support arrears, including:

  • Collection from other income sources: Past due child support can be collected from unemployment benefits, workers' compensation benefits, veteran's disability benefits and Social Security benefits to name only a few.
  • Interception of tax refunds: If more than $50 in past due child support is owed, the CSE can intercept a state tax refund. Similarly, if $500 or more in past due child support ($150 in public assistance cases) is owed, the CSE can intercept a federal tax refund.
  • Driver's license suspension: If a noncustodial parent is 90 days past due on child support, the CSE can request that the court revoke their driver's license.
  • Liens: The CSE can put a lien on personal or real property owned by a noncustodial parent.
  • Professional license suspension: If a noncustodial parent is 90 days past due on child support, the CSE can request that the applicable licensing board revoke their professional license (nurses, doctors, plumbers, attorneys, barbers, etc.).

What the forgoing serves to illustrate is that those with questions or concerns relating to child support -- enforcement or modification -- should give serious consideration to speaking with an experienced legal professional. 

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