Can I sue the courts or CSEA for negligence?

divorce attorney Jill DuffyQuestion:

Several years ago I got a notice from Child Support Enforcement that my monthly support payments were going to be reduced. Ten years later I was informed that this reduction did not take place and I owe thousands of dollars in back child support.

I went to court to find out why the reduction was not entered and neither the courts nor the Child Support Enforcement department had an answer.

Can I sue them for negligence since their error is costing me thousands of dollars?


Suing the state or one of its agencies may not be your best course of action. Most states and state agencies have sovereign immunity.

Sovereign immunity prevents the states or federal government from being sued, unless they give permission to be sued (such as in the case of an intentional wrongful act committed by a state employee). You may not be able to sue the State of North Carolina or the Child Support Enforcement department for negligence.

A simpler course of action may to be to request a hearing with the judge regarding your arrearages. If you can produce a copy of the notice you were provided that your support was to be reduced, they may be able to retroactively reduce your support or waive your arrearages because you reasonably relied upon the information they gave you.

If you no longer have a copy of that notice, you should request a copy of your entire child support file from the Child Support Enforcement department.

You should contact an attorney who is licensed in your jurisdiction to further discuss the specifics of your situation. Cordell & Cordell does represent men in divorce nationwide. Thank you for submitting your question.


Jill A. Duffy is an Associate Attorney in the Troy, Mich., office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in the state of Michigan. Ms. Duffy received her BA in Psychology and Spanish and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oakland University. She received her Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law and graduated Magna Cum Laude.

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21 comments on “Can I sue the courts or CSEA for negligence?

    My boys mother owes almost $30,000 in back child support, plus two contempts later and working on her third contempt.. No jail time.. wow! If that was me I would have been in jail the first $1,000 and 1st contempt The court system is so bias..

    this should be changed cause in the constitutition we have the right to travel we are NOT crimnals i want to sue the federal government to make them stop this or even abolish childsupport cause it us a unfair system What repurcusions does the other parent have they dont jail if they dosomething wrong this should be fixed there are many woman just getting pregnant in order tocolledt child supportand NOTwork if you are on disability you shouldnt be getting childsupport or if you are NOT working

    In North Carolina you can most certainly sue a child support enforcement agency. They have no immunity because they are CORPORATIONS (in connection with the county). And once a County or State incorporates it loses sovereign immunity; (Clearfield Trust Company V. U.S., 318 US 363). They aren’t an “AGENCY” nor do they fall under the Executive branch of government to “ENFORCE” anything. They are a unit of local government or private entity that solely depends on your ignorance to trick you into contracting with them and hoping you don’t catch it before the statute of limitations are up (N.C.G.S. 1-53(1)). They never had and never will have sovereign immunity. Refer to: N.C.G.S. 150B-2(1a) and NC case #: 11CVS1559, if you think I’m lying.

    I also realize this is a Fathers forum . I’m just a mother trying to do the right thing . I haven’t received any answers that seem fair to him ( my Ex ) or my child . I will never saddle him supporting a child that’s not his , but would love some help in this situation

    I also want to mention because NC has saw fit to declare him her father . Her biological father only gives support whenever he feels like it .

    I need help. I was married legally 22 yrs . We separated after 6 yrs . I was left to raise our two children while he went about his life . I only received 300 a month in support for them . Fast forward to 2002 he had another child with a woman in NH where he has been since our separation . in 2014 I had a child and though we hv been separated all this time NC has declared him my child’s father . I also want to mention my Ex has been incarcerated since 2005 so this is also physically impossible.. How can I rectify this . We have since divorced. How can he have rights to my child but I have none to his that was born in 2002

    I’m done dealing with child support the past 16 years I’ve paid them $5,000 cash it turned around and took my license I can’t get them back they want $1,200 for me to get my license back and I’m self-employed I just want somebody to help me because then I offer them money to get my license back and it won’t take it they said they want $1,200 and I’m self-employed so how much supposed to make it in this world

    What The government has done to the Non-Custodial parent in America is Criminal
    They do it for their own benefit – Money-
    The Billions of dollars that sit in the Child Support account even if its only for a short
    time reaps the government Millions in interest
    The government is not interested in fairness or the family . As a matter of fact they are
    the destroyer of families . They certainly do not care how badly they badly they destroy
    the life of the Non-Custodial Parent . They will do what ever they can to destroy the
    NCP. We are the only group of Americans that are so Persecuted without any support
    I am running for President . I will abolish the current system of destruction to the NCP
    Write me in on your ballot .
    Larry Rock

    The ky child support office and the family court division judge made a big mistake on my case. I never once was late on my child support. I’m now on s.s.d. and both my boys get a s.s. check. Child support has me paying $350 a month on top of s.s. checks for $300 each to my boys to my ex. My ex told child support that she do receive s.s. check to my boys on my behalf. Child support froze my bank account. I gave child support everything. Child support don’t know what to do. I asked for copies everything on my case. They mailed me copies of my case. They had a child on my case that I don’t have know ideal who it is. S.S. and child support should be connected. Problem solved but all these educated people running this child support office and courts run it like a fast food restaurant. We’re people with rights too, not everyone is a dead beat parent.

    Hello i was just wondering in the state of ca can i sue child support? The reason why i ask is because they are negligent to my case as for my child support mediator living right next door to my ex and being very close to his family. I have not seen a dime of child support in three years at first we were trying to get along and try to not involve child support the mediators idea of course she made it seem like she was there to help the both of us as time went on i started to see that was not true but i feel stuck and sorta intimidated by the power she holds over my case and how well she knows my daughter’s father she told me once since i have soul custody of My daughter that not just his family but they would take me to court with his family and testify on his side. This has gotten way out of control and i feel that if child support didnt assigne her a case so close to home then i would not be having this problem. I would make a compliment to child support but am worried of it back firing on me some how.

    I live in TN, me &my husband moved & divorced here from NY, TN modified a NY order but did not do it correctly(did not register w/NY orNC-where he currently lives), so when he lost his job as a truck driver (paying $891.00?mth ch supp), he started receiving unemployment insurance. NC child support office would not accept TN stating that order was not properly filed nor prepared by TN office (TN office send order directly to employer and ignored the NC office); My children have not received court ordered child support over the past 4 years because of this. I have been going to court, calling, complaining,: He,s been found in contempt of court. I was told he would be arrested, but only if he comes to TN; Then this years he,s allowed to modify (REDUCE the order, he,s already not paying) over the phone; So, obviously the order of contempt is not going to do me or my children any good. He is about $50,000.00 in arrears, and these arrears accumulated while he was receiving adequate income to pay, but TN could not collect because they had not filed the paperwork correctly in February 2008. So my children have no relationship with their father and we as a family have suffered tremendous financial hardship because of this. I am disabled and have been for the last 16 years, my children were in diapers when we divorced, they are now 19,18,17. You can not imagine what I have had to do and deal with and endure to raise my children keep them safe and stay half way sane. I was told by the TN child support office and I have a letter from them stating this, that NC has finally agreed to enforce the (my) TN case; Today, when I called to get an update I was informed that this was misinformation and that in a couple of weeks I would be informed of their real final decision, I need an attorney, I have been repeately lied to and misinformed by the TN child support office.

    That is the state of Tennessee for you! I have had custody of my 2 kids (now 15 and 17), since 2003. The mother was ordered to pay $35.00 a week in child support. Now (2016), she has managed to get herself almost $19,000 behind. My case worker wont do anything for me, and hasn’t since day 1. She even made the comment to me, that she don’t believe the father should have custody of the children. Back in 2009, I called everyday, and left a message, for 3 months straight. Only to get no response. I finally called the Tennessee governors office, and she called me back in 3 minutes. She tried using the excuse that it cut out, when I left my number. That would have been believable, if I had called and left just 1 message. Back in 2012, my wife and I and our 5 kids (2 mine, 2 hers, and a nephew), moved to the state of Ohio. 3 Years later, I get a letter in the mail, stating they were going to close the child support case, due to the fact that we moved out of state (3 YEARS LATER)!!! Thankfully, the state of Ohio is going to handle this for me, as they said, they can not legally close the support case, for that reason. The state of Ohio told me to send them a letter, stating that I request the case remain open, and request a copy of the court ordered support, and her arrearages, which I did 6 weeks ago, and still have not received a response. Their mother was convicted of drug charges (methamphetamine, and cooking it in the same vehicle, she used to transport our kids during her weekend visits), and did some time in the state of Kentucky. The courts gave us permission to move to the state of Ohio, in 2012, and ordered me to transport the children from Northeast Ohio, to middle Tennessee, every 3rd weekend of every month (1,200 miles round trip), at my expense, and supervise an 8 hours visit with her and the children. To this day, I have abided with the court order, and have spent over $14,000 in fuel, and expenses, to provide the transportation, with no help from her. My wife has an older daughter, that lives with her father in Benton county Tennessee, She pays her child support every week, straight out of her paycheck but the state falsely tacked on an additional $12,000 to her support in arreages. Last week, the state of Tennessee put a lien on our joint bank account, for her child support, and took EVERY penny from our account ($617.00 to be exact)! Half of the money is from MY paycheck! I spent 4 hours arguing with Tennessee over this, and talking to my attorney down there. They finally released the money back into our account, but said they can do it again, and the next time it might not be lifted. But they wont do anything for me, about the child support, I’m ordered to receive. They suspended my wife’s drivers license, but my kid’s mother still has her drivers license. The bottom line is, the state of Tennessee is a flat out JOKE! And the way I’m seeing it, is my kids and I are screwed, because Tennessee won’t do anything for anyone, unless they see the money is actually there to take. My advice to you, is get the hell out of that state, and don’t look back. Good luck to you, I hope your outcome is better than mine!

    I need an attorney. I have been trying to get a support case closed. I have filled out and mailed the affidavit for termination of support and mailed it to them. The first time they mailed it back saying she lived in a different county, so I got another money order and sent it back. They sent it back again saying she lives in the county where I sent it the first time. So I went back got another money order and sent it back again. I noticed each time they sent it back the amount on these money orders was always a few dollars more. This went on four times. I was getting angry, so I called them to see what the problem was. Couldn’t get a straight answer from anyone. I told them that I have been paying on her for two years now, she’s out of school, didn’t go to college, has her own job, and now has her own child. She says I should have done this two years ago and I said what about all the money I have paid in the last two years, will I get that back as overpayment, and she says no that I would have to go to court for that. It’s been a month now,I get a new letter saying that the sheriff’s dept couldn’t get the notice served, that she was going to personally mail it to her. I feel I’m getting the run around here all over money. It’s like they will not terminate the order they just keep collecting. This government system is a joke. I just want fair treatment. And I feel as if they are violating my rights as a citizen. If someone can help I could use it. I want the overpayment of support back and I want the case terminated. Thank you

    I do not have a comment but I do have a question.

    My wife and the State of WA filed for CS in 1971 or 1972 via an Intrastate Petition with the IA Courts which I won because my wife would not respond to my responses to her allegations.

    In 1973 the State of IA awarded a lady I lived with a common law divorce. As stated in the previous paragraph, I was legally married to someone else and the lady who got the “dissolution of marriage” in IA knew my wife and in fact had interacted with my wife socially on a personal basis. The IA Court ordered CS based upon the divorce.

    In 1987 the IA Court filed an Intrastate petition for Back CS in the amount of $14,000+ and Current CS with the KS Court where I lived. The KS Court ruled I owed less than $7,000 back CS and Current CS. IA did not appeal the KS Court ruling.

    In 1998, (not sure of the date), I contacted the KS Courts to find out how much more I owed. Their response was to return 6 of the many KPERS Retirement checks they took by law and to advise me that I had satisfied the KS Court’s order.

    But, in 2001, IA renewed its collection efforts and have been taking money from me ever since.

    The payment records show that I have paid well over $14,000, (more like $21,000), but what I am more concerned with the legal aspects of this case.

    Should not a Court order be illegal and unenforceable if it did not follow proper procedure to begin with. If I was legally married to someone else would not a Dissolution of Marriage that does not apply to my legal wife be illegal and unenforceable, including a CS Order. Isn’t that what the Rules of Civil Procedure are all about?

    I have not been able to get anyone to assist me or to tell me anything that I could do to get this issue resolved. Do you know anyone who would help? Is there anyone out there who will help me ensure they do the right thing by me… I am on a fixed income…

    The child support agency will not give you your complete file unless you have a court order but you can get the basic file and you can also get the name of the person that worked on your case at the time the review was made. This should help you get started on working the issues out. Again, never trust the agency to be professional always double check their work and do not take a non-reply as an answer. Demand an answer and if the case worker is disrespectable go over him/her head until you get someone to address your concerns.

    The fact this happened in North Carolina is not a surprise to me. The NC child support agency screwed my child out of thousands of dollars of support over the years due to common errors. When I called the agency I was ignored. I had to raise hell to get a proper support order. Now that my child is 17teen he will finial get the support he should have gotten from day one. The NC agency is unprofessional. They must lack common math skills and common legal skills that you would think one must have in order to perform the jobs they do. FYI: If you have an x in the military you need to demand a review of the case because in 1990 a law was passed counting BAH and other pay in a support and in 2013 (over 23 years) after the law was passed. The workers still go by the old pre 1990 law.

    driving for a living since 1975, child support in Montgomery county won’t allow me to drive my cab to work
    Hello, I have some rear child support payments due, for my 23 year old son, who lives in Montgomery County, Maryland Child Support has refused to grant me a work (only) drivers license so that the monthly payments of $209.00 can be made (again) I have been out of work since Nov. 2012 and have lost (3) job offers for employment (driving jobs) and now i have been arrested twice ???? I wish i could sue them ???? Can u help me (pls)

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