Child support is a crucial financial tool for millions of custodial parents across the country. As the child’s primary parent, you have a considerable burden on your shoulders in time, energy, and money. From toys and diapers to educational costs and housing expenses, these financial expenses usually far outweigh whatever the noncustodial parent pays in child support. Understanding how child support is determined, as well as how to modify it, is in your and your child’s best interest. Our Raleigh child support attorneys at Triangle Divorce Lawyers explain more below.
How is Child Support Determined in North Carolina?
Child support is a financial payment from the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent (the primary or lower-earning parent in cases where custody is joint). Child support is based on the child’s or children’s needs and the financial situation of each parent. As such, factors include:
- The number of children
- The income of the paying parent
- The income of the custodial parent
- Healthcare expenses of the child
- Educational needs
- Childcare expenses
- The number of nights the child spends with each parent
- The extraordinary expense of the child.
North Carolina’s Child Support Guidelines set a recommended rate for families making $360,000 per year or less, which is commonly used by many parents as the monthly child support amount and is most likely the amount ordered by the Court. For parents whose combined income is more than $360,000, child support is a percentage of the child’s reasonable monthly needs, and the Court does consider the Child Support Guidelines amount. Reasonable monthly needs include the child’s share of the housing and utilities, costs, food, clothing, transportation/gas related to the child, education, medical expenses, extracurriculars, vacation, allowance, haircuts, gym memberships, etc.
What to Do if the Other Parent is Violating the Child Support Agreement
According to CBS News, $10 billion in overdue child support payments are owed to custodial parents and their children. And, 30 percent of payments are not made, while over half of payments that are made are not for the full amount.
However, there are options for custodial parents to take if the other parent is overdue on payments. By working with an attorney and the North Carolina Division of Social Services Child Support Services, you can hold that parent accountable, as well as track them down if they have disappeared. Legal measures used against non-paying parents include revoking their driver’s license or professional license, denying passports, credit bureau reporting, placing a lien on their property, or even jail time.
It should be noted that you cannot interfere with a non-paying parent’s visitation or custody rights even if they have not paid a month’s worth of child support payments. Doing so can jeopardize your custodial rights.
How to Modify Child Support if You are the Custodial Parent
Under § 50-13.7, it is possible to modify a child support order if you have had a material or substantial change in circumstance. Examples of this include (but are not limited to) the following:
- You have lost your job or your income is reduced
- Cost of childcare increases or decreases
- Your child has a new health condition and increased healthcare costs
- Cost of private school education increases
- The birth of another child
- The number of overnights you have increases or decreases
Furthermore, it is possible to modify the child support order if the other parent’s circumstances have changed. For example, they got a new job or a pay raise.
Modification for the Paying Parent Requires a Material and Substantial Change in Circumstances
If you are the paying parent, or you will likely become the paying parent, you need to have a clear understanding of your support obligation so that you do not unintentionally violate the agreement, which is a court order that can carry harsh penalties for mistakes. Your duties include:
- Paying on time
- Paying the full amount each time
- Petitioning the court for a child support modification if your circumstances have changed
- Continuing to pay the full child support order until a modification has been granted by the court
While no child support order is set in stone (modifications can be made whenever either party proves that there have been material and significant changes in circumstances), it is vital that you continue to pay the current support judgment until the court grants a modification. It is understandable that if a parent loses their job, for example, they would not be able to continue to make their child support payments. As such, it is incredibly important that you take immediate action by contacting an attorney as soon as possible if your new situation requires a reduced child support obligation.
Call a Raleigh North Carolina Child Support Attorney Today
Here at the Triangle Divorce Lawyers law firm, our Raleigh family law attorneys understand just how important receiving a favorable and fair child support judgment or modification is to you. With offices in Cary, Raleigh, and Wake Forest, our experienced child support attorneys have assisted countless families over the years. Call us today at 919-303-2020 to schedule your case review.