North Carolina Child Support
Laws, Enforcement, & Information

The North Carolina Child Support Enforcement agency will do everything they can to make sure that child support owed to you is paid. In 1975, Title IV-D was added to the Social Security Act to establish a nationwide Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program, with the purpose of recouping money paid out to welfare recipients when at least one parent existed who could provide support for the child.

Child Support exists to raise the standard of living for children by enforcing their right to receive financial support from both of their parents. The child support program assists families with collecting much needed child support from parents who are not in the home.

North Carolina Child Support

North Carolina Child Support Enforcement Agency

North Carolina Child Support Enforcement works to ensure that both parents are responsible for the financial support of their children to the best of their ability. The CSE program provides CSE Services to the custodians of minor children, regardless of income level.North Carolina Child Support agents help locate:

  • Non-custodial parents
  • Establish paternity
  • Petition the court to order child support payments

Once a court order has been established, incoming child support payments are receipted at North Carolina Child Support Centralized Collections Operation, which manages the collection and disbursement of all ordered child support payments in the state. To enforce child support orders, CSE agents can initiate legal action against the non-custodial parent, withhold support payments from the non-custodial parent's wages, and intercept their tax refunds.

Role & Responsibilities of the North Carolina Child Support Agency

CSE agencies:

  • Gather all available information from individuals and other agencies.
  • Evaluate their cases and determine the support activities to be pursued.
  • Contract with attorneys to represent cases in civil court actions. These attorneys represent the CSE agency and not the individual client in a case.
  • Work with all parties in a case, providing information or explanation of case activities when appropriate.
  • Keep the information that they receive confidential. Only information that is public record can be divulged. (N.C. law requires CSE to list the Social Security numbers of all parties who are involved in a child support case on documents that establish paternity and support.)
  • Abide by federal regulations and state laws when handling child support cases. Automation has increased the speed and accuracy of information gathering, taking actions, and disbursing support payments for children.
  • Are required to continue providing the necessary services to all cases after Public Assistance is terminated, unless the client requests that services not be provided and no amounts are due and owed to the state.

Establish Paternity

Establishing paternity is one of the core services provided by North Carolina Child Support. It identifies the legal father of a child, which ensures certain rights for the child and access to the father's medical information and benefits.

Also a child support order cannot be established for a child born out of wedlock unless the alleged father acknowledges paternity or is proven to be the father through genetic testing.

What are some legal ways to establish paternity?

Voluntary acknowledgement process - Both the mother and father complete a form known as an Affidavit of Parentage; this document becomes a legal finding of paternity. If there are any doubts about who is the father of the child, neither party should sign an Affidavit of Parentage.

Either parent can request genetic testing to assist in determining the father of the child. Paternity should be established through the courts once genetic testing determines the father.

Civil or criminal paternity action - A court of law establishes the paternity of the child, and in most cases, a child support order is entered.

Genetic Testing

Genetic testing is a way of determining the probability that the alleged father is the child's biological father. The natural mother, alleged father, and the child have blood/tissue taken by a nurse or phlebotomist.

The procedure can take place in the CSE office or a testing laboratory. Identification is required, and individuals being tested are photographed to verify the donors. Results from the lab can take four (4) to six (6) weeks.

What can North Carolina Child Support do when a non-custodial parent does not pay his/her child support?

  • Some remedies that North Carolina Child Support can use to enforce a child support order are:
  • Court action resulting in jail time
  • Interception of tax refunds (Tax Intercept)
  • Consumer credit reporting

A noncustodial parent's obligation is reported to consumer credit bureaus that track credit records. Having a child support arrearage debt on a credit record could prevent an NCP from getting a loan or a new credit card.

Passport denial/ revocation-

NCPs with cases that have arrearages of more than $5, 000 are submitted to the U.S. Secretary of State. The U.S. Secretary of State refuses to issue a passport to these NCPs and could revoke, restrict, or limit a passport that was previously issued.


A lien is a hold placed on property to ensure that child support payments are made. If NCPs have arrearages equal to three (3) month's of their child support obligation or $3000 (whichever is less), CSE can petition the court to place a lien on the NCP's property. The NCP can either pay his/her arrearages to have the lien removed, or the property can be sold to satisfy part or all of the debt.

Driver, professional/occupational, or wildlife license revocation --

If an NCP is ninety (90) days behind in child support payments, a judge can order revocation of his/her driver license. CSE also can refer that NCP's name to the appropriate licensing board to revoke a professional or occupational license. These licenses cannot be reissued until either the entire debt is paid or a satisfactory payment plan is established. Examples of professional/occupational licenses include: doctor, lawyer, realtor, nurse, teacher, plumber, barber, etc.

Levying financial institution (bank) accounts -

If NCPs have arrearages equal to six (6) months of their child support obligation or $1000 (whichever is less), North Carolina Child Support can request that a levy be placed on the non-custodial parent's financial institution accounts.

Can a non-custodial parent be arrested for failure to pay child support?

No, A non-custodial parent cannot be arrested solely because child support payments are not paid. The NCP must be served with a Motion and Order to Show Cause, which allows the case to be heard before a judge.

Both parents in the case can be given the opportunity to address the court about the case. After all the testimony and evidence are presented, the judge determines whether or not the NCP is in contempt of the order, and if so, what penalty will be applied.

What is "income withholding"?

Income (or wage) withholding is an efficient and reliable means of collecting periodic child support obligations. When North Carolina (or any other state) sends a notice of wage withholding for an employee to the employer, federal and state laws require that employer to begin withholding child support from the employee's wages.

Employers deduct the amount specified under the terms of the withholding notice from the employee's paycheck and forward it to the state within seven (7) business days. Income can also be withheld when the NCP has other sources of income, such as Unemployment Insurance Benefits, and Worker's Compensation.

The following below are areas income withholding is used:

  • Salaries/ wages
  • Unemployment Compensation
  • Workers' Compensation
  • Work Release
  • Social Security Administration (SSA) Benefits
  • Veteran's benefits
  • Retirement benefits

Child Support Modification

Can the amount I owe for child support order change?

North Carolina Child Support automatically reviews child support orders every three (3) years if the family is receiving public assistance. Other orders being enforced through CSE office can be reviewed every three (3) years, if either parent requests a review.

A review can be requested at any time if a substantial change in circumstances occurs. CSE determines the present income and assets of both parents and the needs of the child(ren). If appropriate, CSE then can seek to modify the order.

What is the maximum amount that can be withheld each pay period from my income?

The percentage of disposable income that is withheld cannot exceed:

  • Forty percent (40%) of disposable income when you have only one support order
  • Forty-five percent (45%) of disposable income when you have multiple support orders and you are supporting a spouse or other children
  • Fifty percent (50%) of disposable income when you have multiple support orders and you are not supporting a spouse or other children.

However, employers can withhold an amount more than the maximum allowed by law if you provide North Carolina Child Support with a notarized written statement that allows a higher percentage to be withheld.

North Carolina Child Support Customer Service

Payment and account information 

Contact Customer Service Center 

1 (800) 992-9457

Mail your payments to:

N.C. Child Support Centralized Collections 

PO Box 900006 

Raleigh, NC 27675-9006

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