North Carolina requires parents to support their children financially, and this obligation continues even after you and your ex divorce or separate.
Even though this duty to support is clear, there are numerous opportunities for legal disputes to arise. If you are having any child support–related issues, it’s important that you have a lawyer who will spring into action on your behalf.
You may be the payor parent and are questioning whether your child support orders are accurate given your income. Or you may be the payee parent and are having difficulty getting the other parent to pay their child support obligation. In either case, contact Patrick, Harper & Dixon to ensure your rights are protected.
Child Support Calculations in North Carolina
In most cases, your child support obligation is calculated by referring to the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines. This collection of rules looks at various circumstances of your situation and uses a formula to provide you and the court with an appropriate child support amount.
To arrive at an obligation for your case, the guidelines consider the following circumstances:
Adjusted Gross Income
Income — both yours and that of your child’s other parent — is one of the most important factors considered in determining child support. The greater the amount of income you and the other parent have, the greater the child support obligation will be.
This relationship between income and child support exists because one of the chief purposes of child support is to allow the child to enjoy a standard of living similar to the one they would have enjoyed had their parents remained together.
There are certain sources of income that are not considered for child support purposes. If your income or that of your child’s other parent is too low, the court may set a minimal amount of monthly child support.
Number of Children
The number of children that you and your ex have will also affect the amount of child support that is owed. While the amount of child support increases as the number of children increases, it does so in intervals of decreasing amounts.
If you or your child’s other parent are supporting children from other relationships, or have other children living in the home with you these circumstances can also affect the total amount of child support you owe.
Special or Extraordinary Circumstances
Last, any special needs your child might have can be considered by the court in ordering child support. If your child has ongoing medical needs, for example, the court may find that the amount of child support provided by the guidelines is not sufficient to ensure your child’s needs are met.
If you incur daycare expenses, provide healthcare or pay healthcare costs of your child, or if your child spends more time living with you than they do with the other parent, these circumstances can also impact the amount of child support called for by the guidelines.
Guidelines Provide a Rebuttable Presumption
While courts should consult the child support guidelines, the presumed amount of appropriate child support they provide is rebuttable. A court may order support that is higher or lower than the amount the guidelines call for if the court finds specific reasons the deviation is necessary to properly support the child.
Calculating an appropriate child support obligation involves more than just plugging numbers into a formula. You want an experienced child support lawyer from Patrick, Harper & Dixon to consider all aspects of your situation and advocate for the appropriate amount of support.
Modification and Termination of Child Support
As your child grows, your financial situation and their needs may change. The child support obligation should be reviewed regularly as employment or visitation schedules change.
If the amount of support called for by the guidelines is 15 percent greater or less than the existing support order, or it’s been over two years since the last order was entered you may consider asking the court to modify the child support obligation.
Your child support obligation will generally terminate when your child reaches the age of 18. If your child is still in high school beyond their 18th birthday, the child support obligation may continue until they graduate, as long as the child is under 20 years of age and is regularly attending school. A child support obligation will also end if the payor parent gives up their parental rights.
Before applying for a modification of child support, agreeing to a modification of child support, or seeking to terminate your parental rights, you owe it to yourself to speak with a knowledgeable full-service law firm in Hickory to make sure you receive the best outcome.
Contact Our Family Law Attorney from Patrick, Harper & Dixon Right Away
Your full-service Family Law attorney from Patrick, Harper & Dixon is available to help you establish, modify, and enforce the court’s child support orders, in Catawba and the surrounding counties. The sooner you speak with us and retain our services, the sooner our attorneys can get to work on your case and help you reach a successful resolution.