Child Support Issues in NC Divorce and Family Law
- What is Child Support in North Carolina?
- How are Child Support Payments Calculated?
- Making Child Support Payments
- Child Support Payment Enforcement
- Modifying Child Support Agreements or Orders
What is Child Support?
Parents are required by North Carolina law to financially support their children. Their obligation does not end until their children are 18 years old or have graduated from high school, whichever occurs last. If a child is not mentally or physically able to support himself or herself, the parents may be required to continue with financial support.
When a couple separates or divorces, each parent must contribute a set amount of child support money which is usually determined by calculating the proportion his or her income contributes to their total combined income amount.
How are Child Support Payments Calculated?
Child Support amounts are calculated using the statutory tables found in the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines. In some situations, the guidelines are not appropriate so support amounts are determined through an analysis of the needs of the child.
The state guidelines apply to parents who have a combined annual gross income of $300,000 or less. If their combined annual income is more than $300,000, the parents can work out child support payments themselves; or if they cannot agree, the court will decide what their financial obligations are to their child or children.
The Child Support Guidelines employ different worksheets depending on the actual physical split of custodial overnights. When the non-custodial parent has less than 123 overnights with the child, worksheet A is used to compute child support. When the non-custodial parent has more than 123 overnights with the child, worksheet B is generally used which results in a lower support amount.
Making Child Support Payments
After the amount of the child support payments has been determined and the payment dates and method of payment established, it is essential that the payments be made on time. For convenience, payments can be set up to coincide with the paying parent’s payday whether it is weekly, monthly or at other intervals. If the paying parent fails to make payments on time, he or she can be subjected to substantial penalties.
If support is being paid pursuant to a court order, it can be paid directly to the custodial parent or by sending payment to the North Carolina Child Support Agency in Raleigh, North Carolina; or it can be paid through wage withholding unless the payer is self-employed.
Child Support Payment Enforcement
When the paying parent fails to make his or her child support payments, the ex-spouse can file a legal action to have them found in contempt of court. The North Carolina courts and Child Support Enforcement Agency take the matter of child support non-payment seriously. A judge will force the non-paying parent to pay the amount owed and may order penalties such as wage garnishment, tax refund penalties, property seizure, attorney fees or even time in jail.
Modifying Child Support Agreements or Orders
The paying parent may petition the court for a modification of his or her child support payment. For the court to grant a modification, you must prove that a substantial change in your circumstances – or the circumstances of your ex-spouse or child – must have occurred since your last support order became effective.
There is a presumption that a support order over three years old is subject to modification if there is a 15% difference between the amount currently ordered to be paid and the amount that would be paid if based on a current application of the guidelines recalculating the parent’s current income.
Greenville NC Child Support and Family Law
Attorney Cynthia Mills
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