110-135. Debt to State created.

Acceptance of public assistance by or on behalf of a dependent child creates a debt, in the amount of public assistance paid, due and owing the State by the responsible parent or parents of the child. Provided, however, that in those cases in which child support was required to be paid incident to a court order during the time of receipt of public assistance, the debt shall be limited to the amount specified in such court order. This liability shall attach only to public assistance granted subsequent to June 30, 1975, and only with respect to the period of time during which public assistance is granted, and only if the responsible parent or parents were financially able to furnish support during this period.

The United States, the State of North Carolina, and any county within the State which has provided public assistance to or on behalf of a dependent child shall be entitled to share in any sum collected under this section, and their proportionate parts of such sum shall be determined in accordance with the matching formulas in use during the period for which assistance was paid.

No action to collect such debt shall be commenced after the expiration of five years subsequent to the receipt of the last grant of public assistance. The county attorney or an attorney retained by the county and/or State shall represent the State in all proceedings brought under this section.

A past-due public assistance debt as described in this section may be deemed negotiable and subject to reduction if the public assistance debt is not less than fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) and the responsible parent continues to be obligated to pay current child support. Upon agreement between the State and the responsible parent, and upon approval of the court upon an inquiry into the financial status of the obligor, the responsible parent shall pay all child support payments, including payments due on child support arrears, entered by a valid court order for a 24-month period of time. Upon the timely payment of each court-ordered child support obligation during the full 24-month period, including payments due on child support arrears, the State shall reduce the responsible parent's public assistance debt by two-thirds. If the responsible parent is late or defaults on any single payment during the 24-month period, no portion of the public assistance debt shall be reduced. The responsible parent may attempt to achieve 24 consecutive months of child support payments as often as possible in order to reduce his or her public assistance debt. However, once the responsible parent's public assistance debt has been reduced by two-thirds because of the successful completion of this agreement, the responsible parent shall no longer be eligible for this program. The reduction of public assistance debt as set forth in this section shall be in addition to all other remedies available to the State for the retirement of the debt. This program shall not prevent the State from taking any and all other measures available by law.

Upon the termination of a child support obligation due to the death of the obligor, the Department shall determine whether the obligor's estate contains sufficient assets to satisfy any child support arrearages. If sufficient assets are available, the Department shall attempt to collect the arrearage. (1975, c. 827, s. 1; 1977, 2nd Sess., c. 1186, ss. 9, 10; 2003-288, s. 1.1; 2005-389, s. 2.)