Child Support Services is a nationwide program established by Congress in 1975 to ensure that both parents support their children to the extent of their ability. The federal legislation mandating the Child Support Program is Title IV-D of the Social Security Act. Sometimes, the program is called the IV-D (4-D) program.
Rutherford County’s Child Support Office is located at 389 Fairground Road - Building B - Spindale, NC. The mailing address is PO Box 242, Spindale, N.C. The phone number is (828) 287-6165.
Services can be provided to any North Carolina parent or custodian regardless of income level. Individuals receiving Work First Family Assistance and Medicaid are automatically referred to the local child support enforcement agency. Persons receiving public assistance are required to cooperate with child support enforcement as a condition of their eligibility for assistance. Persons not receiving public assistance may apply for and receive child support services upon the payment of a $10.00 or $25.00 application fee. This includes aunts, uncles, grandparents, court-appointed guardians, or others who are caring for a child.
If the parent lives in another state, a court action will be initiated in Rutherford County and forwarded through the other state's central registry to the child support authority in the jurisdiction where the absent parent resides. That office will then bring the absent parent before the local court to request that a child support order be entered. The court in the other state has the authority to set the amount of the order.
Services Offered By Child Support
The Child Support Unit can help locate the non-custodial parent who is absent from the home and has a financial obligation to support children. Child support staff uses local, state, and federal sources to find a non-custodial parent such as NC Department of Driver's Licenses, NC Department of Motor Vehicles, NC Employment Security Commission, NC Department of Corrections, NC Vital Statistics, Federal Inmate Locator, NC Employment Security Commission, and the Wildlife Commission.
Establishment of Paternity
Paternity means fatherhood. Establishing paternity means a person named as the father of a child has been legally determined to be the father. Establishment of paternity is necessary only when the mother is not married to the father of the child. Paternity must be determined legally before a child support order can be established.
Establishment of Legal Obligation
A support obligation is established based on the needs of the child and parents' ability to provide support. Mandatory guidelines are used in the North Carolina Child Support Enforcement Program in order to compute a child support obligation based on the combined gross income of the custodial and non-custodial parent. The absent parent may either voluntarily agree to an amount of support, or the obligation can be established through court proceedings.
The Child Support Enforcement Agency will decide on the best way to collect the child support ordered to be paid by the absent parent. All new or modified child support orders must contain a provision for income withholding to take effect immediately. If this is not possible, the child support unit is responsible for any follow-up action that may include court proceedings and the interception of the absent parent's state and/or federal income tax refunds.
When a parent refuses to pay court-ordered child support or does not pay the full amount, the child support enforcement agency may do one or more of the following:
- Request immediate wage withholding
- Refer the case for intercept of federal and state income tax refunds
- File a lien on real or personal property
- Refer the past-due support debt to credit reporting agencies
- Request the suspension or revocation of a professional license or a driver's licenses
- File a contempt of court action
Frequently Asked Questions
My spouse and I are newly separated. What do I have to do to get child support?
You have three options: you and your spouse can agree, you can hire an attorney, or come to you can come to your local child support enforcement office. In general, the sooner you act to get child support established after a separation, the easier it will be.
How do I apply for child support enforcement help?
You may apply for child support services at any of the local Child Support Enforcement offices around the state. Check the county government listings in your phone book to find your office. The staff there will follow state guidelines to determine how much support is owed, and assist you in getting a child support order established. A one-time small fee is all you will have to pay to get services.
My ex never pays his support. If I know where he is, why can't you just go and arrest him?
A parent cannot be arrested solely because child support payments are not paid. The noncustodial parent must be served by a local sheriff with a Motion and Order to Show Cause. Often, simply serving the papers is an obstacle when the noncustodial parent finds ways to elude the sheriff. After the show cause is served, your case can be heard before a judge. The judge determines if the noncustodial parent is in contempt of the order and, if so, what penalty will be applied. Child Support Enforcement cannot dictate the judge's ruling.
My payments always arrive late. Can you make him pay on time?
The current month's payment is not considered delinquent until 30 days have passed and the amount owed is equal to one month's obligation. At that point, the child support enforcement agent may use any of a number of strategies to ensure payment. You may ask your agent to file court action for delinquent payors.
Can I get my money more quickly with direct deposit?
Direct deposit means the automatic deposit of your child support payments directly into your checking account. With direct deposit, mailing time is eliminated, so you will receive your money more quickly. You will have fewer trips to the bank, no lost or stolen checks, and the transaction is safe and confidential. To sign up, call your child support enforcement agent or on the web at dhhs.state.nc.us/dss/cse/directdeposit.htm.
Is the Centralized Collection System the same as Child Support Enforcement?
No, they are two separate operations. Child Support Enforcement works to establish and enforce child support orders, and they only handle cases where a parent has applied for services or is on public assistance. Centralized Collections collects and disburses all child support checks in North Carolina, and performs no enforcement function. More than 99 percent of all checks are processed within 72 hours, the vast majority in under 2 days. The only support that does not go through Central Collections are those collected and disbursed through direct deposit. Both functions are managed by the NC Department of Health and Human Services.
My check is a funny amount. Why?
When the non-custodial parent has more than one child support case, Centralized Collections automatically prorates each payment. That is, the money paid is divided among all of the payor's child support cases, depending on how much is owed to each and account balances. Federal and state laws require proration. Often proration results in checks received in odd amounts.
How can I get more information?
The CSE Handbook is a 24-page description of how the program works. To get a copy, call your local child support enforcement office or 800-992-9457 from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. You can also access the enforcement web site at http://www.dhhs.state.nc.us/dss/cse/index.htm.
For further information contact Rhonda Ruppe, Child Support Enforcement Supervisor at (828)287-6137