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Enforcing Child Support Orders

There are many ways the court may enforce child support orders, although judges don’t necessarily use them all for a variety of reasons. Judges look at the circumstances of each case, including whether the person who is accused of not paying is acting in good faith or merely trying to take advantage of the other parent. Enforcement procedures are slightly different depending on whether payments are made directly to the other parent or made to the state. North Carolina statutes include these remedies for judges, listed in no particular order:

  1. Ordering the non-paying parent to post a bond.
  2. Placing a lien (known as a deed of trust) on property, or any other means ordinarily used to secure an obligation to pay money or transfer property.
  3. Ordering the parent to sign an assignment of wages, salary or income.
  4. Conveying land from one parent to the other with a court order instead of a deed.
  5. Arrest and bail.
  6. Garnishing wages (up to 40% of monthly disposable earnings).
  7. Wage withholding through the State Child Support Collection and Disbursement Unit.
  8. Attachment, also called a levy, which is a process that gives the court legal custody over property to be applied to the outstanding debt.
  9. Injunction (to freeze assets, for example).
  10. Appointing receivers, who are similar to trustees, to manage assets such as a company.
  11. Naming the child as a creditor for the purpose of the laws regarding fraudulent conveyances (hiding assets).
  12. Holding the parent in civil or criminal contempt of court, and incarcerating him or her.
  13. Order an execution sale, when someone’s property is sold by the sheriff.
  14. Revoking the parent’s regular (or commercial) license to operate a motor vehicle.
  15. Directing the Division of Motor Vehicles to refuse to register the parent’s motor vehicle.
  16. Revoking the parent’s hunting, fishing, or trapping licenses.
  17. Revoking occupational licenses including a license, certificate, permit, registration, or any other authorization that allows a parent to engage in an occupation or profession.
  18. A parent may ask the magistrate to issue “criminal process” against the parent for violation of G.S. 14-322 (Abandonment and failure to support . . . children), which is a misdemeanor.

See NC Gen. Stat. 50-13.4, 50-13.12, 50-138.1, 110-142.2, 110-136, 1-339.41.

Amy A. Edwards is a family law attorney in Greenville, NC, certified by the NC State Bar Board of Legal Specialization as a Family Law Specialist, and is licensed only in NC. Laws change. This article is current as of March 2015.
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