Child Support Enforcement
Once a court orders a parent to pay child support after a divorce, they must do so. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the child support payments will be made. For a variety of reasons, a parent may choose not to make court-ordered child support payments or be unable to do so due to a change in their financial situation. In these cases, it is important to understand your child support enforcement options. At the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, our dedicated team of Charlotte child support lawyers proudly help parents obtain support payments on behalf of their children. We understand all of the enforcement options in North Carolina and how to effectively use them to ensure you receive the child support payment you need to ensure your children’s health, safety and happiness.What Can You Do if a Parent Isn’t Paying Child Support?
In North Carolina, there are a few child support enforcement options. Perhaps the most common way to enforce a child support order is to obtain the court’s permission to withhold the paying parent’s wages. This is also referred to as wage garnishment. Depending on the circumstances, a parent who is owed support may be able to garnish the paying parent’s unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, Social Security benefits, or Veteran’s benefits.
To withhold income from a paying parent’s paycheck, you must obtain a writ of execution, which directs the paying parent’s employer to take a portion of their check and set it aside to satisfy the parent’s child support obligations.
Other options to compel a party to pay child support include:
- Referring a case to the credit bureaus;
- Withholding of the paying parent’s tax returns; or
- Placing a lien on a parent’s personal property, such as a vehicle.
A parent’s duty to pay court-ordered child support is clear, and there are significant penalties if a parent willingly refuses to meet their obligations. For example, if a parent decides they don’t want to pay child support, they could face:
- Contempt proceedings,
- Criminal prosecution,
- Garnished wages,
- Driver’s license suspension or revocations, and
- A withholding from their income tax refund.
Of course, the inability to pay child support based on valid financial constraints is unlikely to result in any punitive action against the parent. In these situations, the court may entertain a request for a child support modification, provided the parent seeking the modification can establish a substantial change in circumstances.
What if a Parent Cannot Pay for Child Support?
If a parent who was ordered to pay child support cannot do so due to job loss, a medical condition, or any other valid reason, the court can modify the amount of child support due. To do this, the court will consult the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines, which are based on the paying parent’s income. If the paying parent’s income is low enough, the court may reduce the amount of child support until they start to earn an income.Can You Withhold Visitation if a Parent Isn’t Paying Child Support?
No. The law is clear that the duty to comply with a court’s visitation order is independent of the duty to pay child support and vice-versa. Thus, if a parent isn’t paying child support, you can’t prevent them from seeing your child. At the same time, if visitation is refused (even without a valid basis), it doesn’t excuse a parent’s obligation to continue paying child support. The remedy, in either case, is to bring the situation to the court’s attention.Are You Having a Hard Time Collecting Child Support?
If your child was awarded court-ordered child support, and your child’s other parent isn’t living up to their obligations, reach out to the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, to discuss your options. At the Olsinski Law Firm, PLL, we have a long history of helping parents and children get the child support payments they need, deserve, and are legally entitled to. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with a Charlotte divorce lawyer, give us a call at 704-405-2580. You can also reach one of our Concord family law attorneys at 704-918-4747. We represent clients in Mecklenburg, Gaston, Cabarrus, Iredell, Rowan, and Union Counties.