Onslow County Child Support Services

Applying for services

To apply for child support enforcement services, you must complete an Application for Services and return it to our office. Applications can be requested by mail, telephone, or in person at our office. A IV-D application will be provided on the same day if requested in person, or within five working days if requested by phone or mail.

All applications are logged into the child support office upon receipt and subsequently stamped with the date on which they were submitted. At this time, a case record is established. Within twenty days of receiving an Application for Services, one of our case specialists will contact you to both verify specific information as well as solicit anything further that might assist in location efforts.

If you are not receiving public assistance, you will be required to pay a $25 application fee at the time you submit the Application for Services. If you already have a child support order through a divorce agreement or from another state, we must have a copy of this order to enforce it.


Child Support Services (CSS) Services

In North Carolina, CSS services are available to anyone who wants or needs help in collecting child support through a network of state and locally run offices. CSS offers assistance in the following areas:

Individuals who receive services through Public Assistance (IV-A) or Foster Care (IV-E) programs are eligible and automatically referred for CSS services free of charge. Custodial parents in Non-Public Assistance cases can inquire about CSS services by telephone and receive an Application and Supplemental Data Sheet to complete, or they can visit any local CSS office. Custodial parents are responsible for paying up to a twenty-five dollar ($25) non-refundable application fee.

The CSS program is not authorized to help with some issues that might seem similar to child support, such as custody, visitation, or property settlements. Private attorneys and county Clerks of Superior Court also offer certain support services. To learn more about what assistance is available, you may contact these offices individually.

For more detailed information regarding paternity establishment, please click on the following link.

North Carolina Child Support Services


Location of Non-Custodial Parents

NCPs must be located before any actions to establish paternity and support or to enforce a child support order can take place. Name, date of birth, Social Security number, address, employer, and vehicle ownership information can assist the CSS program in locating an NCP. Custodial parents are a primary source of information that CSS uses to locate NCPs.

The following information will assist with our location attempts:

  • Legal name (Required)
  • Residential address
  • Date of Birth
  • Social Security number
  • Home and/or work phone number
  • Place of employment
  • Physical description
  • Information about any military service
  • Any other identifying information that might be useful

With these types of information, the CSS program can access both state and national computer databases to assist in location efforts. In addition, CSS offices in other states can assist in locating parents and pursuing a support order.

For more information and answers to your frequently asked questions, please contact your local child support office, county DSS office, or navigate through the Child Support Handbook.

If your web browser has the Adobe Acrobat Reader ® plug-in, the document will open in your web browser. If not, you will be prompted to save the file to your hard drive. After you have saved the file to your hard drive, you will need to open the file with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader ® application, available from Adobe ® downloads page.


Establishing Paternity

Establishing a legal father for a child ensures certain rights for the child, such as a greater sense of identity and access to paternal medical information, social security benefits, death and insurance benefits, and military benefits.

A child support order cannot be established for a child who is born to unmarried parents, unless the alleged father acknowledges paternity or is proven to be the father. Paternity can be established by voluntary acknowledgment of paternity or by court order.

The most convenient time for parents to establish paternity for their child is in the hospital when the child is born. The father must be present and provide identification to have his name placed on the Affidavit of Parentage. When this document is filed with Vital Records, both parents' names are recorded on the birth certificate.

Genetic (DNA) testing is recommended if there are doubts regarding the paternity of the child. Blood or tissue samples may be used for testing. The most common method uses tissue swabbed from the inside of the cheek. This test is highly accurate in determining the probability that a man is the father of a child. Test results may provide peace of mind to parents who establish paternity voluntarily or may be presented as evidence in legal proceedings to establish paternity.

If paternity is not established voluntarily, legal action may be filed with the courts. A formal complaint is served upon the alleged father, initiating court action. A court hearing is held, and the court may enter an order establishing paternity.

For more information and answers to your frequently asked questions, please contact your local child support office, county DSS office, or navigate through the Child Support Handbook.

If your web browser has the Adobe Acrobat Reader ® plug-in, the document will open in your web browser. If not, you will be prompted to save the file to your hard drive. After you have saved the file to your hard drive, you will need to open the file with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader ® application, available from Adobe ® downloads page.


Establishment of Support Obligation

A legal order must be established that specifies the amount of support to be paid for the benefit of a child. The successful establishment of a support order depends upon several critical areas. The critical areas are:

  • Locating the noncustodial parent (NCP)
  • Identifying what he or she can pay
  • Determining the financial needs of the child

States are required to develop guidelines for determining child support amounts. In North Carolina, CSS Guidelines are determined by the North Carolina Conference of Chief District Court Judges. These guidelines are based on the needs of the child(ren) and on the ability of parents to pay. States must use the guidelines, unless they can be shown to be unfair to the child(ren).

The CSS Guidelines are used to compute a child support obligation based on the combined gross income of the custodial parent and NCP. Either the NCP can agree voluntarily to the amount of support or the obligation can be established through court action.

An obligation to provide medical support in the form of health insurance through the NCP's employer can be obtained either voluntarily or through court action

For more information and answers to your frequently asked questions, please contact your local child support office, county DSS office, or navigate through the Child Support Handbook.

If your web browser has the Adobe Acrobat Reader ® plug-in, the document will open in your web browser. If not, you will be prompted to save the file to your hard drive. After you have saved the file to your hard drive, you will need to open the file with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader ® application, available from Adobe ® downloads page.


Collection and Distribution of Support

All child support payments handled by N.C. CSS are sent to the Centralized Collections Operation. Payments are received by various methods, such as:

  • Direct payments
  • Income withholding
  • Interception of tax refunds

Child support payments are distributed and disbursed based on federal regulations and state statutes. Then the NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) mails the checks to the appropriate payees.

For more information and answers to your frequently asked questions, please contact your local child support office, county DSS office, or navigate through the Child Support Handbook.

If your web browser has the Adobe Acrobat Reader ® plug-in, the document will open in your web browser. If not, you will be prompted to save the file to your hard drive. After you have saved the file to your hard drive, you will need to open the file with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader ® application, available from Adobe ® downloads page.


Enforcement of Support Obligations

Establishing a child support order is no guarantee that the noncustodial parent (NCP) will pay the support as ordered. NCPs could make partial payments, skip payments, or never make a payment. N.C. CSS identifies these cases and uses several enforcement tools to get payment as ordered.

Income withholding by employers is the single most effective method of child support collection. Each pay period, the employer deducts a specified amount from the NCP's income for the child support payment. The deducted amount is sent to the NC Child Support Centralized Collections (NCCSCC) within seven (7) days of the deduction.

Income withholding can also be initiated with entities other than employers when the NCP has other sources of income, such as unemployment insurance benefits (UIB), Worker's Compensation, Social Security benefits, and veteran's disability benefits.

Employers are required to withhold income for child support orders that are enforced by other states, in accordance with the laws of the state where the NCP is employed.

Other enforcement remedies include:

  • Monthly billing to NCPs who are not under income withholding;
  • Filing court action against NCPs who have not paid support as ordered;
  • Credit bureau reporting of all child support obligations handled by CSS;
  • Interception of state and federal tax refunds; or
  • Liens on real or personal property that the NCP owns.

For more information and answers to your frequently asked questions, please contact your local child support office, county DSS office, or navigate through the Child Support Handbook.

If your web browser has the Adobe Acrobat Reader ® plug-in, the document will open in your web browser. If not, you will be prompted to save the file to your hard drive. After you have saved the file to your hard drive, you will need to open the file with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader ® application, available from Adobe ® downloads page.


Review and Adjustment

Because family dynamics and situations do not remain static, Federal and North Carolina regulations have developed standards for periodic review and adjustment of child support amounts. It might be appropriate to adjust the amount of support either upward or downward based on a change in the child's needs or a variation in the calculation of support under mandatory guidelines. In North Carolina, any parent or guardian has the authority to request a review of the child support order and if a child is receiving public assistance, their support order is automatically reviewed every thirty-six months. Parents or guardians of children receiving public assistance may request a modification review prior to the automatic thirty-six month review if there has been a "major life change" which affects a non-custodial parent's income or the custody of the child.

If you have questions regarding the modification of a child support order, please visit Child Support Services REVIEW AND ADJUSTMENT , or contact Onslow County Child Support Services.


Medical Support Establishment


General Information

Federal regulations require CSS to seek medical support as a part of all child support orders and, when appropriate, to exchange this medical insurance coverage information with the Division of Medical Assistance (DMA). The regulation requires CSS to pursue health insurance for a child in any case where the custodial parent and child have no satisfactory coverage available other than Medicaid. "Satisfactory coverage" includes situations where the custodial parent has insured the child under North Carolina's Health Choice plan. The availability of medical insurance coverage services must be explained to the custodial parent in Non-Public Assistance cases at the time of application.


National Medical Support Notice

On August 1, 2002, North Carolina began using the National Medical Support Notice (NMSN), a standardized federal form that CSS agencies in all states are required to use. This form was developed with input from employer groups and health plan administrators. The NMSN complies with section 609 (a)(3) and (4) of ERISA, which pertains to informational requirements and restrictions against requiring new types or forms of benefits.

When the court orders noncustodial parents (NCPs) to provide employment-related health care coverage for their dependent child(ren), the NMSN is used to provide a means of communication between CSS agencies, employers, and group health plan administrators regarding the NCP's medical support obligations.

Note: This notice is not used when the court has ordered non-employment-based health insurance coverage or when the parties have stipulated to non-employment-based health insurance coverage.

The NMSN must be served on the NCP's employer:

  • Within five (5) business days after an initial order has been entered;
  • Within two (2) business days of the NCP being added to the N.C. New Hire Directory; or
  • As soon as CSS caseworkers become aware that the NCP has changed employment.

The NMSN is divided into two (2) parts and includes four (4) different documents with detailed instructions:

Part A consists of:

  • NOTICE TO WITHHOLD FOR HEALTH CARE COVERAGE - The local CSS agency completes this document and sends it to the employer with the rest of the packet.
  • EMPLOYER RESPONSE - If unable to enroll the child(ren), employers complete and return this document to the local CSS agency. See Employer Responsibilities.

Part B consists of:


Employer Responsibilities

After receiving the NMSN, employers are required to transfer Part B to the health insurer or health care plan administrator within twenty (20) business days, unless:

  • The employer does not provide dependent or family health insurance for employees;
  • The employee is not eligible for the health care coverage that the employer provides;
  • The employee no longer works for the employer.

If employers are not required to transfer the Notice due to one of these reasons, they must notify the local CSS agency in writing within twenty (20) business days after the date of the Notice. If none of these reasons apply, employers forward the Notice to the health insurer or plan administrator.

The plan administrator notifies employers when enrollment has been completed and what the dependent coverage will cost. Employers must then notify their payroll office/service to deduct the amount that is required by the health plan from the employee's wages and transfer it directly to the insurer or plan administrator. (If an employee contests the withholding, employers must initiate and continue the withholding until they receive notice that the contested case is resolved.)

At this point employers could determine that the deductions for child support and health insurance premiums exceed the maximum percentage allowed under the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) and any applicable state law. (In N.C., this is 65%.)

Employers must look to the law in the state where the employee is employed to determine the priority for payment. If CCPA limits prevent the payment of both ongoing current support and health insurance premiums and payment of health insurance premiums does not have first priority, employers must notify the issuing CSS agency by completing and sending the "Employer Response" form to the agency.

If the insurer or plan administrator notifies the employer of a waiting period for the enrollment of an employee, the employer must notify the plan administrator when the employee becomes eligible for enrollment in the health care plan.

If the plan administrator informs the employer that the NMSN does not meet their requirements for a "qualified medical child support order," the employer must notify the local CSS agency in writing.

Employers that are obligated to provide health benefit plan coverage must inform the local CSS agency in writing within ten (10) business days of an employee's termination of employment. Employers must include the NCP's last known address and the name and address of the new employer, if known. An employer cannot fire, refuse to employ, or take disciplinary action against an employee solely because of the withholding.

If a court finds that an employer has failed to comply with these provisions, that employer is liable as a payor and liable in a civil action for reasonable damages.


Plan Administrator Responsibilities

The plan administrator must complete the "Plan Administrator Response" section of Part B and return it to the local CSS agency within forty (40) business days after the date on the National Medical Support Notice. Plan administrators can include the following information:

  • Whether the criteria are present for the Notice to be determined a "qualified medical child support order;"
  • Whether the Notice is determined NOT to be a "qualified medical support child order," and the reasons it is determined not to be one;
  • Whether the NCP's child(ren) are enrolled and under what type of health insurance coverage;
  • When is the effective date of the coverage; and
  • Whether more than one health care option is available under the health plan.

If more than one health care option is available under the health plan, the insurer or health plan administrator notifies the local CSS agency. The responsible CSS caseworker must consult with the custodial parent, select an option, and inform the plan administrator of the option selected within twenty (20) calendar days from the date when the plan administrator notified the local CSS agency.

If the Notice is determined to be a "qualified medical child support order", the plan administrator enrolls the child(ren), determines the cost of the coverage, and notifies the employer of the amount to be withheld.

The plan administrator notifies the local CSS agency, employer, NCP, and custodial parent of any enrollment waiting periods for the employee. After the waiting period has ended, the plan administrator must enroll the child(ren).

If either the employer, the health insurer, or plan administrator does not comply with these provisions, they can be held liable for a civil penalty and are subject to a civil suit for reasonable damages.


Termination of Medical Insurance

When a noncustodial parent is no longer under order to provide medical insurance for the child(ren), the CSS agency enforcing the medical obligation must notify the employer(s) of the end of the medical obligation within ten (10) business days.


Verifying Continued Insurance Coverage

CSS sends an Employer Letter To Verify Continued Insurance Coverage semi-annually to the NCP's identified employers to confirm whether or not coverage is still available.