Divorce is often a long and drawn-out process that may feel never-ending when you’re in the middle of it. Unfortunately, many people who go through a divorce emerge from the divorce unsatisfied with the court’s final decision. They may even be unhappy with the final child support order. A parent may have lost a job, become injured, or experienced another substantial change in circumstances. In North Carolina, the only way to legally alter a final child support order is to petition the court for a child support modification.
Discuss a Child Support Modification With a North Carolina Attorney
If you are interested in learning more about petitioning the court to modify your child support order, you need an experienced family law attorney on your side. At Greene Wilson Crow & Smith, we have an in-depth understanding of North Carolina’s child support laws, and we can help you petition the court to modify your order. We have a proven track record of successfully assisting clients in modifying their child support orders when they have experienced a substantial change of circumstances. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation and learn more about our services.
What to Do If You Disagree With a North Carolina Child Support Order
If you disagree with how much child support you receive or that you have to pay, there are several different steps you can take to modify your child support agreement. Your options will depend on how the court initially determines child support and how long the current child support order has been in place. For example, if you just went through the divorce process and the court recently entered your child support order, it’s unlikely that they will modify the order. However, it is still possible to successfully petition the court to modify your child support order as long as you can prove that you or your co-parent have experienced a material change in circumstances.
Reasons to Petition The Court for a Modification
Typically, when one parent petitions to modify their child support agreement order, it is because his or her income has changed. The parent receiving a child support payment can obtain more child support by showing an increase in the cost of expenses related to raising the child or children. The parent receiving child support may claim that the parent paying child support has experienced an increase in his or her income that would constitute a material change in circumstances.
On the other hand, a parent who is paying the child support will typically file a petition to modify the child support order if he or she is unable to work due to a disability or illness. In some cases, the parent paying child support will have been laid off or had his or her hours drastically reduced, making it challenging to pay the child support payments.
Child Support Modification in North Carolina
In North Carolina, you will need to show that you’ve experienced a substantial change in circumstances to modify your child support order. Any modifications that you and your co-parent agree upon must be validated by the court. In other words, simply agreeing with your co-parent isn’t enough to change your court-ordered child support order. One parent will need to petition the courts asking them to modify the child support order and provide evidence that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred.
Only if the court has found a substantial change in circumstances will it perform a new calculation under North Carolina’s child support guidelines. The court will take into account each parent’s financial situation, including any additional childcare expenses, or any other important information in the child support determination.
You Have the Right to Request a Review Every Three Years
If your child support order was entered by the courts three or more years ago, or it hasn’t been changed in at least three years, you have an automatic right to request a review. After you petition the court to review your child support order, they will evaluate your income and your co-parent’s income to decide if the child support needs to remain the same, decrease, or increase.
What is the Statute of Modification of Custody in NC?
North Carolina doesn’t have a specific statute solely for modifying child custody. Modifications are governed by Chapter 50 of the NC General Statutes, outlining child custody and visitation. The key provision for modifications is G.S. § 50-13.7, stating custody orders can be changed if there’s a significant change in circumstances affecting the child’s welfare and the change warrants modifying the order.
Proving a Material Change in Circumstances
Anytime there is a material change in circumstances, a parent can petition the court to modify the child support order. material changes in circumstances may include a change in the child’s needs, such as:
- A voluntary decrease in the paying spouse’s income
- A significant involuntary decrease in the paying spouse’s income,
- A change in child custody
- Termination of your duty to pay child support for one or more children within the support order
When the new amount of child support owed by the paying parent results in more than a 15 percent change, the court can modify the order in a shorter period than three years.
Contesting the CSS Review
CSS is a state agency that works with parents and other parties regarding child custody. They help parents obtain and modify child support orders. If CSS has been handling your child support, but there isn’t a court order, you have 30 days to file a petition asking a judge to review the child support order. At the hearing, you will be able to provide evidence showing that you’ve experienced a significant change in circumstances that your child’s needs have changed or shown you and your co-parent’s actual income.
Child Support Termination in North Carolina
In certain circumstances, child support payments automatically terminate without the parent paying support having to petition the court to officially terminate the application. For example, when a parent has one child who turns 18 or graduates high school, the payment obligation will automatically terminate. A parent will need to petition the court to terminate child support obligations in some cases.
Contact a North Carolina Child Support Modification Attorney
Whether you are going through a divorce or you would like to petition the court to modify a post-divorce order, such as your child support order, we can help. Our experienced team of family attorneys has handled a wide range of family law matters in North Carolina for their clients. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you protect your rights.