The child support process can seem very confusing and overwhelming. Here’s how to enforce child custody in North Carolina

A party may face several consequences if they refuse to pay child support.

Why is it Important to Enforce Child Support?

A parent will want to enforce a child custody order if their co-parent refuses to follow it.

However, additional reasons to enforce a child custody order include:

  • A parent fears their co-parent is abusing or neglecting the child
  • Concerns over whether one’s co-parent may kidnap their child
  • The co-parent takes the child and leaves the country

Enforcing Court-Ordered Child Support in North Carolina

Unfortunately, even after parties enter an order and establish their rights and responsibilities, one party’s failure to fulfill their court-ordered obligations can result in more litigation. The specific mechanism for enforcing a court order depends on the obligation the court enforces. A trial court can enforce its orders through a contempt proceeding. The court will restore parental rights if the accused parent fails to satisfy the court order’s terms or refuses to continue court proceedings. If the accused parent does not comply with the court order, they risk jail time and other penalties for contempt.

To enforce a court order, a parent can:

  • Consult with an experienced family law attorney to protect their rights.
  • File a Motion for Contempt or a Motion for Order to Show Cause to request the judge to hold the other parent in contempt for violating an existing court order.
  • If the judge finds the accused parent in contempt, they will assign an appropriate punishment, depending on your case’s circumstances. The penalty may include a verbal reprimand or even jail time.

What Happens if a Party Violates a Court Order in North Carolina?

If a co-parent refuses to adhere to an existing child custody order, they could seriously affect their co-parent’s and child’s daily life. The impact is especially true in cases where a parent forbids their child from seeing their other parent. If a parent does not obey a child custody order, an attorney can help hold the accused parent’s actions accountable in court.

To punish a co-parent for violating a court order, a judge must first determine that they are in contempt of court. In contempt of the court means a parent violated the court order while fully aware of its conditions. The consequences of being held in contempt of court include but are not limited to the following:

  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • Modification to the child custody agreement
  • Compensatory visitation
  • Payment of their co-parent’s attorney fees

A parent can file a Motion for Order to Show Cause or Motion for Contempt to ask the judge to hold the other parent in contempt of court for violating the order. If the judge finds that the other parent violated the order, the judge will decide the appropriate penalty. Penalties for contempt of court can include a verbal reprimand, a fine, jail time, or requiring the party in contempt to pay the other party’s attorney’s fees.

Related: Child Custody Laws in North Carolina

Is it Possible to Change a Custody Order in North Carolina?

If a parent has a temporary custody order, they can schedule another hearing in their case without the need to file additional motions. However, filing a motion may be helpful in some cases. If a parent has a permanent custody order, they must file a Motion to Modify.

When filing a Motion to Modify, one must allege in their motion and prove a substantial change in circumstances has occurred since the court issued the original order. The party must also demonstrate that the changes affect the child and warrant a modification to serve the child’s best interests.

Does North Carolina Recognize Valid Custody Orders From Other States?

Custody orders from other states are valid in North Carolina. Even if a parent and/or child moves from another state to North Carolina, a North Carolina judge will continue to handle their case as long as one party still lives in the state. If everyone leaves the original state, parents can ask the North Carolina courts to take over their case. If parents want a North Carolina judge to enforce or change their out-of-state order, they must begin by registering the order in North Carolina.

Related: How to Fight Termination of Parental Rights in North Carolina

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If you or a loved one would like to know more about how to enforce child custody in North Carolina, get your free consultation with one of our family law attorneys today!