Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply for child support services?

You can complete the application by visiting one of our offices, calling one of our offices and requesting an application be mailed to you, or filling an application online here.

Is an apply fee required?

A non-refundable $25 apply fee is required to apply for Non-Public Assistance services. You could be eligible for a reduced fee of $10. Ask about this when you apply.

Acceptable forms of payment for apply fee are cash, money order or cashier's check.

For more information, contact one of our offices.

What services are provided by CSE?

The CSE program provides the following services: location of noncustodial parents, paternity establishment for children born outside of marriage, establishment of support obligations, collection and distribution of support, and enforcement of support obligations.

How long does it take to obtain a child support court order and receive child support payments once the apply is completed and received by the CSE program?

The length of time depends upon the unique circumstance of each case. Some cases are more complicated and require more time. Providing additional information when requested, helps CSE in obtaining a child support order in a timely manner. Factors contributing to the complexity of the case can include:

  • Difficulty in locating the noncustodial parent
  • Paternity establishment
  • Multiple potential fathers
  • Noncustodial parent lives in another state.

Can the CSE office assist me with visitation and custody issues?

No. Federal regulations do not allow the CSE office to provide services for visitation or custody disputes. Child support and visitation rights are separate issues. For these issues, consult with a private attorney.

What kind of documents can I provide to help the CSE agency process my case?

If possible, provide the following documents:

A copy of the divorce decree, separation agreement or court order for child support
A copy of the Affidavit of Parentage, if one has been signed
Birth certificate(s) of the child(ren) involved
Documents that reflect both parent's incomes (paycheck stubs, tax returns, bank statement, etc.)
Evidence of child support payment history
Other documents might be needed, depending on your case.

Do I have to provide CSE with information about the noncustodial parent to receive Work First Family Assistance?

Work First applicants/recipients must cooperate with CSE by providing information about the NCP, unless the Work First agency determines that good cause exists for noncooperation (such as the potential for emotional/physical harm to the child or caretaker.) If good cause is granted, the case is not referred to CSE. Contact your Work First caseworker for information on how to make a claim of good cause.

What should I do if my address changes?

Make sure that you keep CSE informed immediately of changes to your address. If a child support check is returned CSE due to an incorrect address, it is not reissued until a new address becomes available. Call the CSE Customer Service Center at 1-800-992-9457 from 7:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., Monday through Friday or contact Johnston County CSE.

What should I do if my name changes?

Call the CSE Customer Service Center at 1-800-992-9457 from 7:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., Monday through Friday or contact Johnston County CSE.

How can I reach Johnston County CSE?

The Customer Service phone number for the Johnston County Agency is 919-989-5080.

What is the NC CSE Customer Service Center?

The CSE Customer Service Center serves as the gateway for all questions from our customers. It’s toll-free phone number is 1-800-992-9457. This number puts you in contact with the Voice Response Unit, which is available seven (7) days per week. Information is available in English or Spanish. Have your MPI number available. A menu describes your options. Press the appropriate number to go directly to the information you want, or press 0 to speak to a customer service representative. You also can contact CSE Customer Service representatives by regular mail or by email. This provides you with information on how to contact a representative.

Is the CSE always successful in locating the noncustodial parent (NCP)?

No. However, as the CSE agency receives more information on an NCP, it's ability to locate that NCP increases.

What does "establishing paternity" mean and why is it necessary?

Establishing paternity is one of the core services provided by CSE. It identifies the legal father of a child, which ensures certain rights for the child and access to the fathers medical information and benefits. Also, a child support order cannot be established for a child born out of wedlock unless the alleged father acknowledges paternity or is found to be the legal father by court order.

What is a genetic test?

Genetic testing is a way of determining the probability that the alleged father is the child's biological father. The natural mother, alleged father, and the child can have a buccal swab test taken by a nurse or phlebotomist. The procedure takes place in a testing laboratory. Identification is required, and individuals being tested are photographed to verify the donors. Results from the lab can take four (4) to six (6) weeks.

What are some of the legal ways to establish paternity?

Paternity can be established in the following ways:

  • Voluntary acknowledgement process
  • Both the mother and father complete a form known as an Affidavit of Parentage; this document becomes a legal finding of paternity. If there are any doubts about who is the father of the child, neither party should sign an Affidavit of Parentage. Either parent can request genetic testing to assist in determining the father of the child. Paternity should be established through the courts once genetic testing determines the father.
  • Civil or criminal paternity action A court of law establishes the paternity of the child, and in most cases, a child support order is entered.

If the father is unable to sign the Affidavit of Parentage in the hospital, can this document be completed at a later time?

Yes. The Affidavit of Parentage can be signed at Johnston County CSE, or visit the N.C. Vital Records web site.

What is the ncKIDScard?

The ncKIDScard is a debit card that is issued to recipients who do not have direct deposit. Child support payments are no longer mailed in check form. They are now deposited directly on the debit card. For more information on the ncKIDScard visit

Will the father's name be placed on the birth certificate?

Yes. When the natural mother and biological father sign an Affidavit of Parentage, the affidavit is filed with N.C. Vital Records . The father's signature on the affidavit gives permission for his name to be entered on the birth certificate for a child born in North Carolina.

What happens after paternity has been established?

Once paternity is established, an order for financial and/or medical support can be obtained either voluntarily or by court order.

What does "establishing support" mean?

Establishing support is one of the core services provided by CSE. To successfully establish a support order, CSE must locate the noncustodial parent (NCP), identify how much the NCP can pay, and determine the needs of the child(ren) in the case. CSE must obtain a legal order that specifies the amount of financial support to be paid for the benefit of the child(ren).

What are some of the legal ways to establish a child support order?

Child support orders can be established in the following ways:

  • A Voluntary Support Agreement (VSA) that is signed by a judge
  • A civil court action, brought by the custodial parent, an organization, or the guardian of a dependent child
  • A Criminal Abandonment and Non-Support court action
  • A divorce order that includes child support

How is the amount of child support determined?

The amount of child support to be paid is based upon the NC Child Support Guidelines . These guidelines are used to calculate child support orders based on the ability of parents to pay and the needs of the children. The amount of child support is calculated using the worksheets contained in the guidelines.

What is the North Carolina Child Support Centralized Collections (NCCSCC) operation?

The NCCSCC operation automatically processes all N.C. child support payments at a central location in accordance with the requirements of federal and state law.

What does "enforcement" mean?

Once a child support obligation is determined and a court order established, CSE is responsible for enforcing the order. Appropriate enforcement actions are mandatory when the noncustodial parent is not complying with the court order.

What can CSE do when a noncustodial parent (NCP) does not pay his/her child support?

Some remedies that CSE can use to enforce a child support order are:

  • Court action resulting in jail time
  • Interception of tax refunds
  • Consumer credit reporting
  • A noncustodial parent's (NCP's) obligation is reported to consumer credit bureaus that track credit records. Having a child support arrearage debt on a credit record could prevent an NCP from getting a loan or a new credit card.
  • Passport denial/ revocation
  • NCPs with cases that have arrearages of more than $5, 000 are submitted to the U.S. Secretary of State. The U.S. Secretary of State refuses to issue a passport to these NCPs and could revoke, restrict, or limit a passport that was previously issued.
  • Liens
  • A lien is a hold placed on property to ensure that child support payments are made. If NCPs have arrearages equal to three (3) month’s of their child support obligation or $3000 (whichever is less), CSE can petition the court to place a lien on the NCP’s property. The NCP can either pay his/her arrearages to have the lien removed, or the property can be sold to satisfy part or all of the debt.
  • Driver, professional/occupational, or wildlife license revocation
    an NCP is ninety (90) days behind in child support payments, a judge can order revocation of his/her driver license. CSE also can refer that NCP’s name to the appropriate licensing board to revoke a professional or occupational license. These licenses cannot be reissued until either the entire debt is paid or a satisfactory payment plan is established. Examples of professional/occupational licenses include: doctor, lawyer, realtor, nurse, teacher, plumber, barber, etc.
  • Levying financial institution (bank) accounts
  • If NCPs have arrearages equal to six (6) months of their child support obligation or $1000 (whichever is less), CSE can request that a levy be placed on the NCP’s financial institution accounts.

What is "income withholding"?

Income (or wage) withholding is an efficient and reliable means of collecting periodic child support obligations. When North Carolina (or any other state) sends a notice of wage withholding for an employee to the employer, federal and state laws require that employer to begin withholding child support from the employee’s wages. Employers deduct the amount specified under the terms of the withholding notice from the employee’s paycheck and forward it to the state within seven (7) business days. Income can also be withheld when the NCP has other sources of income, such as Unemployment Insurance Benefits, and Worker’s Compensation.

What kinds of income can be withheld?

North Carolina income withholding law permits the withholding of most kinds of income. Examples include:

  • Salaries / wages
  • Unemployment Compensation
  • Workers' Compensation
  • Work Release
  • Social Security Administration (SSA) Benefits
  • Veteran's benefits
  • Retirement benefits

What sources of income are exempt from income withholding?

The following sources of income are exempt:

  • Public Assistance (Work First)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Federal Black Lung Benefits
  • Federal Death Benefits
  • Payments under the Federal Torts Claims Act
  • Federal grants and fellowships
  • Veteran's Educational Assistance Payments
  • Refunds from incorrect payment or overpayment of Federal income tax
  • Travel, transportation, uniform, relocation, and other allowances for civilian employees on military posts
  • ROTC subsistence allowance
  • Veteran's Disability and Death Benefits

Is it possible to collect child support from sources other than wages?

Yes. It is possible to collect past due child support from other types of assets such as tax refunds, insurance settlements, unemployment compensation, workers’ compensation benefits, property, and bank accounts. Custodial parents should inform their caseworker of any assets that the noncustodial parent has.

Can a noncustodial parent (NCP) be arrested for failure to pay child support?

NCPs cannot be arrested solely because child support payments are not paid. The NCP must be served with a Motion and Order to Show Cause, which allows the case to be heard before a judge. Both parents in the case can be given the opportunity to address the court about the case. After all the testimony and evidence are presented, the judge determines whether or not the NCP is in contempt of the order, and if so, what penalty will be applied.

Can a noncustodial parent (NCP) be forced to get a job?

Child support caseworkers can offer suggestions on where to seek employment, but they do not have the authority to require someone to go to work. A judge can require the noncustodial parent to seek employment and return to court at a later date.

What can be done when the noncustodial parent's payments are due on the first of the month, but they are always late?

The current month’s payment is not considered delinquent until thirty (30) days have passed and the amount that is owed equals or exceeds one month’s obligation. Once the payments are past due thirty (30) days, enforcement actions can be taken.

How can CSE collect child support if the noncustodial parent (NCP) is paid in cash?

Income withholding might not be effective if the NCP is paid in cash. Delinquency notices are mailed to the NCP. If payments are not made, enforcement remedies can be taken.

What is an "Interstate case"?

Interstate cases are cases in which the involved parties reside in different states AND a request for assistance is forwarded to the other state’s child support agency.

Who handles a child support case in another state?

The CSE office in the noncustodial parent’s state of residence handles the establishment or enforcement of a child support order.

What is the $25.00 annual fee?

CSE is required to assess a $25.00 non refundable annual fee to all cases in which a TANF check has never been received and CSE services have been rendered. This fee will only be assessed after $500.00 in child support payments have been received on the case during each federal fiscal year (October 1 September 30).

Can my child support payments be direct deposited into my bank account?

Yes. You can obtain an authorization for direct deposit by calling or visiting one of our CSE offices, or you can download the authorization form by visiting