Child Custody in North Carolina
Divorce is a nasty thing, and it is not something most people want to talk about. Even so, it is incredibly common. It is a frequently cited fact that approximately half of all marriages end in divorce. While all divorces are unpleasant, among the most emotionally taxing are those that involve children. While many (former) couples are able to come to some sort of agreement involving visitation, it is incredibly common that one parent ends up with primary custody, leaving the other parent with maybe as little as one weekend a month. But wait, it gets worse! When it comes to child support payments, many of the noncustodial parents in North Carolina are not paying, making an often tense situation even worse.
According to this North Carolina news site, even as recently as 2015, millions of dollars worth of child support payments had gone unpaid. In addition, from the five years leading up to 2015, only 65% of the child support payments had been collected. According to demographics from The Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, the overwhelming majority of custodial parents that are eligible to receive child support are women: 89%. As far as North Carolina is concerned, this means that most of the remaining 35% of funds yet to be collected are not going to the women who need it. In addition, 29% of those eligible are below the federal poverty level, so these families rely extremely heavily on the funds provided by child support: up to 45% of a family’s income in some cases. These poor families who do not receive their payments end up costing the taxpayer since they make greater use of food stamps and other forms of aid. The reason cited for these nonpayments is that noncustodial parents either do not have jobs or the ones they do pay far too little to sustain both themselves and their child. Of course, even with wage garnishing and a court order, many people are still refusing to pay for support due to poor enforcement, and some people who owe support may never end up paying the full amount.
Add in the fact that North Carolina legal aid funding has been cut, and those suffering from poverty have few options when it comes to divorce lawyers in Raleigh that can help soon-to-be-ex couples sort out their most valuable assets: their children. The reassuring portion of this news is that of the remaining funds, most will still go to victims of domestic violence and for child custody cases. Even so, North Carolina needs to make a greater effort in ensuring that non-custodial parents pay their fair share for child support. Raising the minimum wage so that more people are incentivized to get jobs and stay off of the welfare system might be a great start. It should also be a requirement that the custodial parent has a full-time job as well, to ensure that both parents are putting in everything they can.