The Cumberland County Child Support Department is responsible for providing the following services:
Noncustodial Parent Location
The noncustodial parent must be located either with a residential or employment address before any actions to establish paternity, establish a support obligation or enforce a support obligation can take place. The custodian’s assistance in providing information is critical for location success and proceeding with the next step in the child support process. The Date of Birth, Social Security Number, address, employer and vehicle ownership information can assist the Child Support Department in locating the noncustodial parent.
Establishment of Paternity
A critical step in a child’s life is determining who the child’s father is. Establishing the legal responsibility of a father for his child ensures certain rights and privileges for the child, a greater sense of identity, access to paternal medical information, Social Security insurance and possibly military benefits. A legal responsibility for a child must exist before a father can be pursued for support. Identifying the legal father of a child may be done by voluntary acknowledgment of paternity or by court order. Under North Carolina Law, paternity can be established at any time prior to a child’s eighteenth (18th) birthday.
Establishment of Child Support Obligation
It is necessary to have a legal order for child support specifying the amount of the child support obligation. The order establishes the legal obligation for support or maintenance of a child, which may include medical coverage, up to the age of majority under the law of the issuing state. The Child Support Department does not have the authority to establish a spousal support order, but if a prior order exists which includes spousal support in conjunction with child support the Child Support Department may be able to intervene and enforce.
Establishing paternity or a support obligation does not resolve custody or visitation issues and the Child Support Department cannot assist in these matters. Custody and visitation can be handled either voluntarily by the parents or through the court system. The Cumberland County Family Court Access and Visitation Program provides assistance to noncustodial parents who do not have court ordered access to their children.
Collection of Child Support Payments
A court order for child support dictates the amount of support to be paid and how often. Support is collected from payments made directly by the noncustodial parent, through income withholding, and from the interception of tax refunds and other sources. The processing and distribution of all child support payments are based on Federal Regulations. These regulations also require payments to be processed at one centralized location. Payments are then sent to the appropriate payee of the case by either direct deposit or debit card.
Enforcement of Child Support Obligations
Establishing a child support order does not guarantee the noncustodial parent will pay the support as ordered. There may be times when the parent makes partial payments, skips payments or never makes a payment. The Child Support Department identifies these cases and utilizes several enforcement tools. Income withholding is the most effective method, however, there is also monthly billing to noncustodial parents who do not pay through income withholding, court action, credit bureau reporting, passport revocation, interception of state and federal tax refunds and liens against personal property.