Can You Get Arrested for Failing to Pay Child Support?

Here in North Carolina, as is the case elsewhere across the nation, non-custodial parents are typically required to make child support payments to the custodial parent. As you may or may not know, an obligation to pay support is handed down by a family law judge and is considered enforceable under state law.

Those who aren’t as familiar with family law as an attorney is, though, might ask the question we’re posing in today’s post title: can you get arrested for failing to pay child support? The answer is no, but it’s crucial to know that this doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t breaking the law and can’t ever be arrested. Let’s take a look.

As the North Carolina Division of Social Services explains, though a non-custodial parent is breaking the law by failing to pay child support, these delinquent payments are not considered immediate grounds for arrest in our state. In order to enforce the law, a custodial parent must serve the non-custodial parent with a Motion and Order to Show Cause. This legal notice not only notifies the non-custodial parent of their failure to meet their court ordered obligation, it also allows the case to be heard before a North Carolina family law judge.

Only after listening to both parents’ testimonies and evidence will a judge make a decision about whether the non-custodial parent was in contempt of court for failing to pay child support. At such time, a judge will determine the appropriate penalties for the situation, which may or may not include arrest of the non-custodial parent. In situations such as this, it may become highly necessary to seek legal counsel.