There are a lot of misconceptions about child support. Relying on incorrect assumptions could cost you plenty.
A North Carolina family lawyer can handle your child support case and help you avoid these 6 myths about North Carolina child support.
MYTH: If Your Ex Does Not Pay Child Support on Time, He Loses That Month’s Visitation
Parenting time is based on what the court determined to be in the best interest of the child, not the financial arrangements between the parents. The non-custodial parent does not “pay for” the right to time with the child by paying child support.
If you withhold visitation because your ex is behind on child support or pays late, the court could hold you in contempt. If the conduct happens repeatedly, the court might even give custody to your ex. If the other parent habitually pays child support late or misses child support payments entirely, you might want to talk with your lawyer about options like wage withholding.
MYTH: Parents with Joint Custody Do Not Have to Pay Child Support
A common misconception is that when parents have joint custody, the obligation to pay child support to each other gets offset. That is not the case. Even if the parties exercise equal parenting time, like alternating weeks, one parent still might have to pay child support to the other. The amount of parenting time is only one factor in the calculation of child support. The income of both parents is also a key element in child support.
MYTH: A Special Needs Trusts Can Replace a Parent’s Child Support Obligation
Sometimes, a parent who has a child with special needs might offer to set up a special needs trust instead of paying child support. This approach will not be in the best interest of the child because it will likely disqualify him for Medicaid and other essential government assistance programs. A special needs trust is intended to supplement the child’s quality of life, not provide basic food, clothing, and shelter.
MYTH: You Can Get Out of Your Child Support Obligation if You Quit Your Job
People might get angry when a court orders them to pay child support, so they quit their job, thinking that doing so will relieve them of the obligation to pay child support. People who do this find out that they still have to pay child support and they no longer have a job.
If you have a significant change in your income due to circumstances that were not your fault, like a layoff, and that change is expected to be long-term, the court might reduce your child support obligation temporarily. Voluntary actions like quitting your job or walking away from a higher-paying job to a job that pays far less income will not get you out of your child support application. The court usually treats you as if you still have your previous income in those situations.
MYTH: You Have to Continue Paying Child Support While Your Child Is in College
Typically, child support ends at age 18 in North Carolina. If your child is still in high school when they turn 18, you must pay child support until they graduate. If your child is 17 when they graduate, your child support application continues until they are 18.
MYTH: Child Support Arrearage Gets Canceled When the Child Turns 18
If you have a child support arrearage when your child turns 18, you still must pay that arrearage unless the party receiving the payments cancels your arrearage. Your obligation to pay current monthly child support ends when the child turns 18, but the arrearage remains until paid in full or canceled. You can talk to a North Carolina family law attorney about your child support and other divorce-related questions. Get in touch with our office today, we gladly offer a free consultation.