2019 North Carolina General Statutes
Chapter 50 - Divorce and Alimony
Article 1 - Divorce, Alimony, and Child Support, Generally.
§ 50-13.4 - Action for support of minor child.
50-13.4. Action for support of minor child.
(a) Any parent, or any person, agency, organization or institution having custody of a minor child, or bringing an action or proceeding for the custody of such child, or a minor child by his guardian may institute an action for the support of such child as hereinafter provided.
(b) In the absence of pleading and proof that the circumstances otherwise warrant, the father and mother shall be primarily liable for the support of a minor child. In the absence of pleading and proof that the circumstances otherwise warrant, parents of a minor, unemancipated child who is the custodial or noncustodial parent of a child shall share this primary liability for their grandchild's support with the minor parent, the court determining the proper share, until the minor parent reaches the age of 18 or becomes emancipated. If both the parents of the child requiring support were unemancipated minors at the time of the child's conception, the parents of both minor parents share primary liability for their grandchild's support until both minor parents reach the age of 18 or become emancipated. If only one parent of the child requiring support was an unemancipated minor at the time of the child's conception, the parents of both parents are liable for any arrearages in child support owed by the adult or emancipated parent until the other parent reaches the age of 18 or becomes emancipated. In the absence of pleading and proof that the circumstances otherwise warrant, any other person, agency, organization or institution standing in loco parentis shall be secondarily liable for such support. Such other circumstances may include, but shall not be limited to, the relative ability of all the above-mentioned parties to provide support or the inability of one or more of them to provide support, and the needs and estate of the child. The judge may enter an order requiring any one or more of the above-mentioned parties to provide for the support of the child as may be appropriate in the particular case, and if appropriate the court may authorize the application of any separate estate of the child to his support. However, the judge may not order support to be paid by a person who is not the child's parent or an agency, organization or institution standing in loco parentis absent evidence and a finding that such person, agency, organization or institution has voluntarily assumed the obligation of support in writing. The preceding sentence shall not be construed to prevent any court from ordering the support of a child by an agency of the State or county which agency may be responsible under law for such support.
The judge may order responsible parents in a IV-D establishment case to perform a job search, if the responsible parent is not incapacitated. This includes IV-D cases in which the responsible parent is a noncustodial mother or a noncustodial father whose affidavit of parentage has been filed with the court or when paternity is not at issue for the child. The court may further order the responsible parent to participate in work activities, as defined in 42 U.S.C. 607, as the court deems appropriate.
(c) Payments ordered for the support of a minor child shall be in such amount as to meet the reasonable needs of the child for health, education, and maintenance, having due regard to the estates, earnings, conditions, accustomed standard of living of the child and the parties, the child care and homemaker contributions of each party, and other facts of the particular case. Payments ordered for the support of a minor child shall be on a monthly basis, due and payable on the first day of each month. The requirement that orders be established on a monthly basis does not affect the availability of garnishment of disposable earnings based on an obligor's pay period.
The court shall determine the amount of child support payments by applying the presumptive guidelines established pursuant to subsection (c1) of this section. However, upon request of any party, the Court shall hear evidence, and from the evidence, find the facts relating to the reasonable needs of the child for support and the relative ability of each parent to provide support. If, after considering the evidence, the Court finds by the greater weight of the evidence that the application of the guidelines would not meet or would exceed the reasonable needs of the child considering the relative ability of each parent to provide support or would be otherwise unjust or inappropriate the Court may vary from the guidelines. If the court orders an amount other than the amount determined by application of the presumptive guidelines, the court shall make findings of fact as to the criteria that justify varying from the guidelines and the basis for the amount ordered.
Payments ordered for the support of a child shall terminate when the child reaches the age of 18 except:
(1) If the child is otherwise emancipated, payments shall terminate at that time;
(2) If the child is still in primary or secondary school when the child reaches age 18, support payments shall continue until the child graduates, otherwise ceases to attend school on a regular basis, fails to make satisfactory academic progress towards graduation, or reaches age 20, whichever comes first, unless the court in its discretion orders that payments cease at age 18 or prior to high school graduation.
(3) (See Editor's note for applicability) If the child is enrolled in a cooperative innovative high school program authorized under Part 9 of Article 16 of Chapter 115C of the General Statutes, then payments shall terminate when the child completes his or her fourth year of enrollment or when the child reaches the age of 18, whichever occurs later.
In the case of graduation, or attaining age 20, payments shall terminate without order by the court, subject to the right of the party receiving support to show, upon motion and with notice to the opposing party, that the child has not graduated or attained the age of 20.
If an arrearage for child support or fees due exists at the time that a child support obligation terminates, payments shall continue in the same total amount that was due under the terms of the previous court order or income withholding in effect at the time of the support obligation. The total amount of these payments is to be applied to the arrearage until all arrearages and fees are satisfied or until further order of the court.
(c1) Effective July 1, 1990, the Conference of Chief District Judges shall prescribe uniform statewide presumptive guidelines for the computation of child support obligations, including retroactive support obligations, of each parent as provided in Chapter 50 or elsewhere in the General Statutes and shall develop criteria for determining when, in a particular case, application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate. The purpose of the guidelines and criteria shall be to ensure that payments ordered for the support of a minor child are in such amount as to meet the reasonable needs of the child for health, education, and maintenance, having due regard to the estates, earnings, conditions, accustomed standard of living of the child and the parties, the child care and homemaker contributions of each party, and other facts of the particular case. The guidelines shall include a procedure for setting child support, if any, in a joint or shared custody arrangement which shall reflect the other statutory requirements herein.
Periodically, but at least once every four years, the Conference of Chief District Judges shall review the guidelines to determine whether their application results in appropriate child support award amounts. The Conference may modify the guidelines accordingly. The Conference shall give the Department of Health and Human Services, the Administrative Office of the Courts, and the general public an opportunity to provide the Conference with information relevant to the development and review of the guidelines. Any modifications of the guidelines or criteria shall be reported to the General Assembly by the Administrative Office of the Courts before they become effective by delivering copies to the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The guidelines, when adopted or modified, shall be provided to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Administrative Office of the Courts, which shall disseminate them to the public through local IV-D offices, clerks of court, and the media.
(d) In non-IV-D cases, payments for the support of a minor child shall be ordered to be paid to the person having custody of the child or any other proper person, agency, organization or institution, or to the State Child Support Collection and Disbursement Unit, for the benefit of the child. In IV-D cases, payments for the support of a minor child shall be ordered to be paid to the State Child Support Collection and Disbursement Unit for the benefit of the child.
(d1) For child support orders initially entered on or after January 1, 1994, the immediate income withholding provisions of G.S. 110-136.5(c1) shall apply.
(e) Payment for the support of a minor child shall be paid by lump sum payment, periodic payments, or by transfer of title or possession of personal property of any interest therein, or a security interest in or possession of real property, as the court may order. The court may order the transfer of title to real property solely owned by the obligor in payment of arrearages of child support so long as the net value of the interest in the property being transferred does not exceed the amount of the arrearage being satisfied. In every case in which payment for the support of a minor child is ordered and alimony or postseparation support is also ordered, the order shall separately state and identify each allowance.
(e1) In IV-D cases, the order for child support shall provide that the clerk shall transfer the case to another jurisdiction in this State if the IV-D agency requests the transfer on the basis that the obligor, the custodian of the child, and the child do not reside in the jurisdiction in which the order was issued. The IV-D agency shall provide notice of the transfer to the obligor by delivery of written notice in accordance with the notice requirements of Chapter 1A-1, Rule 5(b) of the Rules of Civil Procedure. The clerk shall transfer the case to the jurisdiction requested by the IV-D agency, which shall be a jurisdiction in which the obligor, the custodian of the child, or the child resides. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prevent a party from contesting the transfer.
(f) Remedies for enforcement of support of minor children shall be available as follows:
(1) The court may require the person ordered to make payments for the support of a minor child to secure the payments by means of a bond, mortgage or deed of trust, or any other means ordinarily used to secure an obligation to pay money or transfer property, or by requiring the execution of an assignment of wages, salary or other income due or to become due.
(2) If the court requires the transfer of real or personal property or an interest therein as provided in subsection (e) of this section as a part of an order for payment of support for a minor child, or for the securing thereof, the court may also enter an order which shall transfer title as provided in G.S. 1A-1, Rule 70 and G.S. 1-228.
(3) The remedy of arrest and bail, as provided in Article 34 of Chapter 1 of the General Statutes, shall be available in actions for child-support payments as in other cases.
(4) The remedies of attachment and garnishment, as provided in Article 35 of Chapter 1 of the General Statutes, shall be available in an action for child-support payments as in other cases, and for such purposes the child or person bringing an action for child support shall be deemed a creditor of the defendant. Additionally, in accordance with the provisions of G.S. 110-136, a continuing wage garnishment proceeding for wages due or to become due may be instituted by motion in the original child support proceeding or by independent action through the filing of a petition.
(5) The remedy of injunction, as provided in Article 37 of Chapter 1 of the General Statutes and G.S. 1A-1, Rule 65, shall be available in actions for child support as in other cases.
(6) Receivers, as provided in Article 38 of Chapter 1 of the General Statutes, may be appointed in actions for child support as in other cases.
(7) A minor child or other person for whose benefit an order for the payment of child support has been entered shall be a creditor within the meaning of Article 3A of Chapter 39 of the General Statutes pertaining to voidable transactions.
(8) Except as provided in Article 15 of Chapter 44 of the General Statutes, a judgment for child support shall not be a lien against real property unless the judgment expressly so provides, sets out the amount of the lien in a sum certain, and adequately describes the real property affected; but past due periodic payments may by motion in the cause or by a separate action be reduced to judgment which shall be a lien as other judgments and may include provisions for periodic payments.
(9) An order for the periodic payments of child support or a child support judgment that provides for periodic payments is enforceable by proceedings for civil contempt, and disobedience may be punished by proceedings for criminal contempt, as provided in Chapter 5A of the General Statutes.
Notwithstanding the provisions of G.S. 1-294, an order for the payment of child support which has been appealed to the appellate division is enforceable in the trial court by proceedings for civil contempt during the pendency of the appeal. Upon motion of an aggrieved party, the court of the appellate division in which the appeal is pending may stay any order for civil contempt entered for child support until the appeal is decided, if justice requires.
(10) The remedies provided by Chapter 1 of the General Statutes, Article 28, Execution; Article 29B, Execution Sales; and Article 31, Supplemental Proceedings, shall be available for the enforcement of judgments for child support as in other cases, but amounts so payable shall not constitute a debt as to which property is exempt from execution as provided in Article 16 of Chapter 1C of the General Statutes.
(11) The specific enumeration of remedies in this section shall not constitute a bar to remedies otherwise available.
(g) An individual who brings an action or motion in the cause for the support of a minor child, and the individual who defends the action, shall provide to the clerk of the court in which the action is brought or the order is issued, the individual's social security number.
(h) Child support orders initially entered or modified on and after October 1, 1998, shall contain the name of each of the parties, the date of birth of each party, and the court docket number. The Administrative Office of the Courts shall transmit to the Department of Health and Human Services, Child Support Enforcement Program, on a timely basis, the information required to be included on orders under this subsection and the social security number of each party as required under subsection (g) of this section.(1967, c. 1153, s. 2; 1969, c. 895, s. 17; 1975, c. 814; 1977, c. 711, s. 26; 1979, c. 386, s. 10; 1981, c. 472; c. 613, ss. 1, 3; 1983, c. 54; c. 530, s. 1; 1985, c. 689, s. 17; 1985 (Reg. Sess., 1986), c. 1016; 1989, c. 529, ss. 1, 2; 1989 (Reg. Sess., 1990), c. 1067, s. 2; 1993, c. 335, s. 1; c. 517, s. 5; 1995, c. 319, s. 9; c. 518, s. 1; 1997-433, ss. 2.1(a), 2.2, 4.4, 7.1; 1997-443, ss. 11A.118(a), 11A.122; 1998-17, s. 1; 1998-176, s. 1; 1999-293, ss. 3, 4; 1999-456, s. 13; 2001-237, s. 1; 2003-288, s. 1; 2008-12, s. 1; 2012-20, s. 2; 2014-77, s. 8; 2014-115, s. 37; 2015-23, s. 2.)