This topic contains information on the following subjects:
Effective January 1, 2012, North Carolina law provides processes to set aside a paternity determination and grant relief from a child support obligation to a man who is determined not to be the responsible father of a child. This process is in addition to the provisions of NCGS 1A-1, Rule 60.
A determination of paternity made under NCGS 49-14 (civil order) or NCGS 110-132 ( Affidavit of Parentage) can be set aside if:
The burden of proof in an action to set aside a paternity determination belongs to the moving party. If the court finds that a proper motion has been presented, paternity testing is ordered. In accordance with NCGS 8-50.1, the moving party is responsible for the cost of the testing. CSS should not schedule, arrange or participate in any paternity testing until it has been ordered by the court. Based upon the criteria stated above, the setting aside of a paternity determination is at the discretion of the court.
Under NCGS 50-13.13, only a father who has been ordered to pay child support can file an action to seek relief from the support obligation. This action can be either a motion in the existing order or a separate action. It must be filed with the court within one (1) year from the date that the movant knew or reasonably should have known that he was not the child's father.
NOTE: A "grace period" authorized in the law extends the initial opportunity to file actions under NCGS 50-13.13 to January 1, 2013, regardless of when the father came to believe he might not be the child's biological father. After that date, the one-year restriction applies.
The requirements for this action are:
The court can appoint a guardian ad litem for the child, but it is not required to do so. The CSS agency can elect to request this appointment if it would best serve the interest of the child. Responsibility for the cost for the guardian ad litem is determined by the court.
If the court finds that good cause exists to believe that the movant is not the child's father, paternity testing must be ordered. The moving party must pay the cost of testing. The court can hold any person who fails to comply with the order for paternity testing in contempt, impose sanctions, or both. CSS should not schedule, arrange, or participate in any paternity testing until it has been ordered by the court.
For CSS cases, support payments must be suspended while the motion is pending. CSS must ensure that all receipts are handled in accordance with the order of the court.
The court can grant relief from (terminate) a child support obligation if:
If the movant does not satisfy all requirements, the court must deny the motion and all paternity, support, and custody orders remain in effect.
If the court finds that the movant did not act in good faith, attorney fees are awarded to the prevailing party.
If the court determines that all requirements have been met, an order is entered to terminate the support obligation:
For questions or clarification on any of the policy contained in these manuals, please contact your local county office.