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- STEP 1 – REVIEW YOUR DOCUMENTS
- STEP 2 – FILLING OUT THE FORMS
- STEP 3 – PHOTOCOPYING THE DOCUMENTS
- STEP 4 – FILING THE DOCUMENTS
- STEP 5 – OBTAINING DATES, FURTHER INFORMATION, ETC…
- STEP 6 – SERVICE OF PROCESS
- STEP 7 – ATTENDANCE
STEP 1 – REVIEW YOUR DOCUMENTS
Review your forms to make sure that you have the necessary document to complete this Child Support Process.
- Domestic Civil Action Cover Sheet ¨Cover Sheet for Child Support Cases Only (pink sheet)
- Civil Summons ¨Complaint for Child Support (Only)
- Affidavit of Financial Standing (Plaintiff)
- Affidavit of Financial Standing (Defendant)
- Affidavit of Service by Registered or Certified Mail (only used if you are mailing the documents to the defendant by certified or registered mail)
Please note that the last page of the Verification of Complaint for Child Support needs to be signed in the presence of a Notary Public.
*NOTE: The Affidavit of Financial Standing must also be notarized. You must read and understand the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines (available in the SelfServe Center) prior to completing the Affidavit of Financial Standing. These forms do not exceed the Child Support Guidelines amount. If you want child support in excess of the Guidelines amount, you should consult with a lawyer.
STEP 2 – FILLING OUT THE FORMS
- Domestic Civil Action Cover Sheet: Fill this out and set aside
- Civil Summons: Fill this out and set aside
- Complaint for Child Support: Fill this out and set aside
- Cover Sheet for Child Support Cases Only (pink sheet): Fill this out and set aside
- Affidavit of Financial Standing (Plaintiff): Fill this out and set aside
- Affidavit of Financial Standing (Defendant): Leave this form blank and set aside
- Affidavit of Service by Registered or Certified Mail: Only used if you are mailing the documents to the defendant by certified or registered mail
STEP 3 – PHOTOCOPYING THE DOCUMENTS
Make 2 copies of the Domestic Civil Action Cover Sheet, Cover Sheet for Child Support Cases Only, Civil Summons, and Complaint for Child Custody and Child Support. Copies can be made for a fee in the Civil Files Office, Room 3342.
STEP 4 – FILING THE DOCUMENTS
Filing: Take the Domestic Civil Action Cover Sheet, Cover Sheet for Child Support Cases Only, Civil Summons, Complaint for Child Custody and Child Support, and Affidavit of Financial Standing (Plaintiff), the filing fee and the $15.00 fee per defendant served, (if you elect to have the Mecklenburg County Sheriff serve the documents) to the Civil Filing Department (832 E. Fourth St., Room 3725).
Case Number: At the time you file the documents named above, you will be assigned a case number. Please make a note of this case number as it should be placed in the upper right hand corner of all subsequent documents in the case.
STEP 5 – OBTAINING DATES, FURTHER INFORMATION, ETC…
Once you have filed your documents with the Civil Filing Department, 3725, you should proceed to the Family Court Office (Room 3520) to obtain a Notice of Hearing. The notice needs to be filed in the Civil Filing Department, 3725, and served upon the defendant. You must also attach a blank copy of the Affidavit of Financial Standing (Defendant) to the files you are going to serve the defendant with. The temporary child support date will be 45 days from the date of filing, to allow time for proper service.
PLEASE MAKE SURE THAT YOUR CORRECT MAILING ADDRESS IS IN THE FILE, AS WELL AS THE CORRECT ADDRESS FOR THE DEFENDANT. Please also note that if your case is referred to Mediation, your claim may be resolved there. If a signed parenting agreement is reached in mediation, you will not need to be given a hearing date.
STEP 6 – SERVICE OF PROCESS
North Carolina General Statutes require that you give notice to the defendant about the filing of your claim. This is known as “Service of Process.” The correct way to serve the defendant is determined by law. If the documents are not correctly served on the defendant, the court will not hear your case.
PLEASE READ THIS SECTION VERY CAREFULLY.
If you have concerns or are confused, consult with an attorney immediately!
In order for your case to be binding against the Defendant, he/she must be given notice of the case, or served in a manner that is recognized by the court. PLEASE NOTE that service of process must be completed successfully for your case to proceed and avoid dismissal. This means that if you have the sheriff serve the documents, IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to follow up and make sure service was completed. If you serve by certified or registered mail, YOU MUST file the Affidavit of Service of Process by Registered or Certified Mail found in your packet along with the green return-receipt card you receive in the mail. The forms needed for Service of Process and the procedures you must follow are complex and will vary. In order to learn which steps to take next, review the following and choose the correct forms and procedures for your case:
Available Methods for Service of Process:
Service of Process by the Sheriff:
If the Defendant lives in North Carolina and will not accept service of process, you will need to pay a $15.00 service fee per party served to the sheriff in the county where he/she resides to serve the papers.
If Defendant lives in Mecklenburg County:
Take the Summons, Complaint for Child Support, a blank copy of the Affidavit of Financial Standing (Defendant), and Notice of Hearing to the Clerk’s Office, Room 3725, when you file for child support. The summons should include the most recent address of the Defendant and any other information that will help the sheriff’s office locate him/her. These will be stamped and filed by the clerk. The Clerk’s office may deliver the documents to the sheriff for you. Sometimes, you must take the stamped documents (Summons and Complaint) and the fifteen dollar payment to the sheriff (700 East Fourth St. Charlotte, NC 28202). In either case, be sure to keep a copy of these documents.
After delivering these documents to the sheriff, he/she will keep a copy of the summons detailing how the Complaint and Summons were delivered to the Defendant. The sheriff’s deputy will then file this information with the clerk of court.
In order to find out if the sheriff was successful or unsuccessful in attempting to serve the Defendant, you must check in person with the Clerk of Court (Room 3725). You may also call the Mecklenburg Sheriff’s Office at 704-336-2543 to determine if service was successful.
If Defendant DOES NOT live in Mecklenburg County:
If the Defendant does not live in Mecklenburg County, you must mail or deliver the Summons and Complaint to the sheriff in the county where he/she is located. The Summons should include the most recent address of the Defendant and any other information that will help the sheriff’s office locate him/her. You should include a certified check or money order for the fee for service made payable to the sheriff of that county. Contact the sheriff’s office in the county where the Defendant is located to determine the fees and process associated with service of process.
If you wish to send your paperwork to the sheriff’s office to be served, you should send it by certified mail return receipt requested to provide evidence that your service request was received.
In order to find out if the sheriff was successful or unsuccessful in attempting to serve the Defendant, you must check in person with the clerk of court (Room 3725). You may also be able to contact the sheriff’s office over the phone to confirm whether or not service was successful.
Service of Process by Certified or Registered Mail
Service of Process by registered or certified mail can be completed on a Defendant who reside either or outside of the state, but within the United States, by mailing a copy of the Summons, Complaint for Child Support, blank copy of Affidavit of Financial Standing (Defendant), and Notice of Hearing. These documents must be sent by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the Defendant and delivered to his/her address (or the address of the location where he/she can be contacted by mail). A postal worker can help you fill out the necessary forms required for registered or certified mailing. If you choose this type of service, you must file the Affidavit of Service of Process by Certified or Registered Mail when you receive the signed return receipt (the “green card”).You must attach the original return receipt to your affidavit.
The Affidavit of Service must be taken to a notary public and signed in their presence.
Please consult with an attorney if the Defendant is in the military or lives in another country.
Service of Process by Publication:
You Do NOT Know Where the Defendant Is: (THIS SHOULD BE YOUR LAST RESORT)
If you do not know where the Defendant is located, you will need to serve him/her by “publication.” If you know where the Defendant is or can find out his/her address, this process should not be used. Publication is a complex process using the newspaper to run notice of the divorce. You should speak to an attorney regarding this type of service. You can find a list of available attorneys and their fees at the SelfServe office (Room 3350).
Lawyer Referral Services:
Mecklenburg County Bar Lawyer Referral Service: (704) 375-0120 or www.meckbar.org
North Carolina Lawyer Referral Service: (800) 662-7660
STEP 7 – ATTENDANCE
Be sure to attend all scheduled court events on time and dressed appropriately (as if you were going to a job interview). This is very important.