In most aspects of family law, it is either a private attorney or no attorney at all for those seeking resolutions to legal issues concerning separation and divorce. However, when it comes to seeking child support, there is another option. Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 651-667, along with creating a federal child support agency, requires every state to create a system for establishing child support amounts, collection of support, and enforcement of child support laws. In recognition of this Federal Law, North Carolina created its own child support enforcement program under the Department of Human Resources to assist citizens in the collection of child support.
Local Child Support Enforcement (CSE) Agencies exist in the counties of North Carolina and operate mainly under the Department of Social Services in your county. While the CSE agency may require a small fee for their services, representation by the CSE attorneys is beneficial for those who cannot afford a private attorney in regards to child support issues. North Carolina CSE agencies offer assistance in the following areas:
- Location of noncustodial parents
- Establish of support obligations
- Establishment of paternity
- Collection & distribution of support
- Enforcement of support obligations
In essence, the CSE attorney is representing the children by enforcing the State law that holds both parents are obligated to support minor children. By providing government funded attorneys to citizens, the State is better able to collect child support and hold those who fail to pay responsible, regardless of income level.
So Why Hire a Private Family Law Attorney?
While CSE agencies are clearly beneficial for a parent who is unable to hire a private attorney to assist in the establishment, collection, or modification of child support orders, the bureaucracy is exponentially overburdened with cases and is unable to provide personal assistance or fast results. Many counties hold CSE court on very few days a month, adding an even longer wait to obtaining an order obligating someone to pay. The benefit of hiring a private attorney is not only a higher level of efficiency, but direct personalized assistance to your case that aids in obtaining the best possible result when it comes to establishing child support amounts. This is especially important in scenarios where someone’s income cannot simply be proved with a yearly W-2 tax document. A private attorney has the time, attention, and resources to find hidden income sources that may increase your child support amount.
For obligors of child support, it is important to note that CSE does not provide assistance to those paying child support. For this reason, it is imperative for those obligated to pay support to speak with a highly qualified family law attorney, regardless of whether your case is through CSE or is in the family district court.
As with all matters related to divorce and family law, it is important to know your legal rights. When deciding whether or not hiring a private attorney is the best option for you, it may be in your best interest to consult with one in order to understand how North Carolina child support laws affect your case specifically. At New Direction Family Law we are committed to providing high-quality, personalized attention to individuals we serve and aggressively advocate, support and educate our clients to achieve the best possible outcomes for them and their loved ones.
Sarah J. Hink
New Direction Family Law