What is an NCP?
A Noncustodial Parent (NCP) does not have physical custody of their child(ren). However, they do have an important role in the child support process. When the DCSS brings a legal action against the noncustodial parent for child support, he or she may discuss the matter with a DCSS representative. NCPs may contact the DCSS by telephone or in person during normal business hours. Visit the contacts page for more information.
Remember, the Department of Child Support Services does not represent the noncustodial parent, custodial party, the child(ren) in the case, or any other individual. The Department of Child Support Services represents the public interest in all cases. Click here for more information about your legal relationship with the Department of Child Support Services. As the NCP, you have a right to be represented by a lawyer or private attorney.
A Child Support Judgment
A judgment by the court may be entered against the noncustodial parent unless they file a written answer (responsive pleading) with the clerk of the Superior Court within 30 days of when they were served with the summons and complaint papers (see the next topic). This will happen whether or not the noncustodial parent has a lawyer. If the noncustodial parent is served with a document stating the date of a court hearing, they should appear in court on the date shown. If the noncustodial parent does not show up, an order can still be entered.
If the noncustodial parent and the DCSS are able to reach an agreement regarding the requests made in the papers served, the noncustodial parent may handle the matter by signing an agreement called a stipulation. By signing a stipulation, the noncustodial parent is agreeing that:
- They are the parent of the child(ren)
- They are obligated to pay the amount of child support and provide the health insurance stated in the stipulation; and
- The court may enter an order or judgment based on the stipulation without further notice.
State law requires that interest at the rate of 10% be computed on unpaid child support. If you think a mistake has been made, contact our office.
Filing a Responsive Pleading
If the noncustodial parent files an answer (responsive pleading), they have a right to a court hearing. The noncustodial parent also has the right to have the court determine how much they will have to pay for support. If the noncustodial parent (in this case an alleged father) denies that he is the father of the child(ren), he has the right to request the court order paternity blood tests to determine if he is really the father. The court may order that he pay none, some or all the costs of the tests.
Wage Assignments and Deductions for Health Insurance
All orders for child support must include a wage and earnings assignment requiring the noncustodial parent's employer to deduct child support payments from the noncustodial parent's salary or wages. An order to deduct health insurance premiums for the child(ren) may also be ordered.
Modification of Child Support Orders
The noncustodial parent can request that the DCSS review their case for modification. The amount of the child support order may be modified by increasing or decreasing the order or by requiring the noncustodial parent to provide health insurance for the child(ren). Based on financial and other information that both the custodial parent and noncustodial parent must provide, the DCSS will determine if a modification for a higher or lower amount is justified. Both parents will be informed of the DCSS's decision.
If the noncustodial parent is laid off, they should immediately notify the DCSS. The noncustodial parent can request a review for modification of the support order. If the custodial parent allows the child(ren) to visit or live with the noncustodial parent on a long-term or permanent basis, the noncustodial parent should immediately take action to have their support order terminated or modified by the court. The noncustodial parent may request that the order be modified, but they should also contact the DCSS to discuss the situation. As long as there is a current support order requiring the noncustodial parent to pay support, unless the noncustodial parent takes immediate action, they may be required to pay support even if the child(ren) are living with them.
Failure to Pay Child Support
The noncustodial parent's duty to pay child support may be enforced by a contempt action, punishable by a jail sentence and/or a fine. NCPs should become familiar with the methods of enforcement used by the Department of Child Support Services.