What You Need to Know About North Carolina Child Support

Child support can be a confusing topic to navigate. Here’s some answers to frequently asked questions about child support in North Carolina.

Child support payments last until a child turns 18. North Carolina law provides protections for parents who receive child support and issues penalties for parents who fail to pay child support on time.

How does North Carolina define child support?

Child support requires divorced, noncustodial parents to support their children financially. The state defines child support as court-ordered payments “paid by a parent for the purpose of meeting the reasonable needs of the parent’s child for health, education and maintenance.”

Related: How to Look Up Divorce Records in North Carolina

For how long does a parent have to pay child support?

Child support payments end on the child’s 18th birthday. Child support payments can extend until a child is 20 years old if the child remains in high school.

How can I request child support?

Parents can request child support by visiting their local Child Support Enforcement Office or by applying online. Online applications require parents to create a North Carolina Identity Management (NCID) account.

What do I need to include in my child support application?

Parents can expect to provide the following information in their child support application:

  • Proof of income (pay stubs, tax returns, etc.)
  • Copy of photo ID (driver’s license, state I.D. card, US passport, etc.)
  • Copy of the child’s state-issued birth certificate
  • Copy of the child’s social security card
  • Photo of the child’s noncustodial parent
  • Copy of parents’ marriage certificate

Are there alternative ways to apply for child support?

Parents can complete a Voluntary Support Agreement (VSA) to establish child support payments. A North Carolina judge must approve and sign the VSA before the VSA becomes a court order.

Related: What Constitutes an Unfit Parent in North Carolina?

Can non-parents pay child support?

Only a child’s legal parents must pay child support.

Can a child’s parent who is under 18 years old pay child support?

The child’s grandparents may pay child support on behalf of the underage parent. The underage parent starts to pay for child support when they turn 18.

Where do I request child support?

The family court processes child support requests. Visit this website to find the nearest family court.

Is there an application fee for child support?

There is a non-refundable application fee of $25 for child support. Parents interested in receiving a discounted application fee of $10 should contact their local Child Support Enforcement Office.

How much child support can a parent expect to pay?

Parents can visit the following websites for an estimate of how much their child support payments may cost:

  • North Carolina Child Support Worksheet A (if one parent has sole physical child custody)
  • North Carolina Child Support Worksheet B (if both parents share physical child custody)
  • North Carolina Child Support Worksheet C (if North Carolina courts divide physical custody between both parents)

What if the parents were unmarried when the child was born?

A parent can’t receive child support payments if the child was born out of wedlock. The child’s biological father must establish paternity before North Carolina courts can issue a child support order.

How can a child’s biological father establish paternity?

The child’s parents can complete an Affidavit of Parentage to legally establish paternity. If the child’s mother doesn’t know who the biological father is, the child’s mother can request a genetic test. Child Support Enforcement Offices provide genetic testing services.

What do I do if the other parent misses child support payments?

Parents who aren’t receiving child support payments should file a Motion for Order to Show Cause.

What happens if a parent doesn’t pay child support?

North Carolina law can assign the following penalties to parents who miss child support payments:

  • Jail time
  • Interception of tax refunds
  • Reduction of credit score
  • Revocation or restriction of a U.S. passport
  • Revocation of a driver’s license
  • Revocation of a professional/occupational license (doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc.)
  • Implementation of a levy on bank accounts

Does a child support order also enforce child custody?

Child support orders are separate from child custody orders.

What do I do if I receive a complaint for child support?

A parent who receives a complaint for child support must file an answer with the court within 30 days. Failure to file an answer may relinquish a parent’s opportunity to refute the complaint and defend themselves.

When do child support payments begin?

Child support payments begin on the first day of the month following the judge’s approval of the child support court order.

Is there a minimum to child support payments?

The lowest child support payment a North Carolina parent can expect to pay is $50.

Can parents modify child support?

Parents can request to modify a child support order in a “substantial change in circumstances.” Common substantial changes in circumstances include a job loss or a change in income. Parents can request a modification with this form.

What if a parent paying child support is not the biological father?

Parents paying child support who discover they are not the biological father can request to drop their child support obligations by filing for a Motion for Relief.

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If you or a loved one would like to learn more about North Carolina child support, get your free consultation with one of our child support attorneys today!