Damned if I do

I am trying to do the right thing, but I don’t want to get screwed by the system. According to the ncchildsupport website, I have a court date in November “hearing for failure to comply with a court order” and it’s showing “No action was taken because Non-Custodial Parent was not served”. I assume it is because I am in arrears for $2,500. I have not been served because I have been unreachable - out of the country. I have been playing phone tag with the case worker but have not spoken with her directly. Though, in good faith, I have left my updated contact information. Last week, she left a message on the machine saying I could pay $1,500 to dismiss the hearing. Unfortunately, I don’t have that kind of money right now. I don’t even have enough to make the $270 a month!

In fact, part of the reason I needed to reach her was to file a motion or petition to reduce the amount because I have been out of work since June. My intention was to be responsible and have her reschedule the court date to December to correspond with a trip home for the holidays (My girlfriend cannot afford to send me back in November AND when we plan to go back in December). But I’m afraid that if I show up without money, they will detain me anyways. If that’s the case, it’s better to stay unreachable until I do have money.

I have been in touch with the mother and my girlfriend has been able to send her some money, but not the full amount. They have both been great about the situation and I fully intend to get caught up with them both as soon as possible. I hate feeling like a “deadbeat dad”. I have applied for several positions here, but jobs are scarce everywhere. I have been fishing off the dock when the weather is good and selling it to the locals, but that is completely unreliable as income.

Legally, this is my concern. If I speak directly with the case worker, does that constitute being “served”? If so and I can’t reschedule the court date, I assume they will file a bench warrant, correct? Or if I do reschedule for December and don’t have the $1,500, should I expect them to detain me? The last thing I want is to show up in good faith and be detained by the court…or to have them file a bench warrant because I’ve been “served”. If so, it seems better to discontinue contact with the system until I can get my finances straight…though that means I cannot file a motion or petition to reduce the amount.

No, speaking with the case worker does not constitue service. You will not be detained if you can show that you are not in willful violation of the order, which based on the facts you list, you are not.