Raleigh Child Support Attorneys Advocate for Your Child’s Best Interests
Trustworthy representation for parents in North Carolina
Children have the right to financial support from both parents, and after a divorce, one parent usually makes child support payments to the other. North Carolina has a formula for calculating child support, but the court has discretion to deviate when doing so is in the best interests of the children. If you are engaged in a child support dispute, it’s important to have reliable legal representation from an experienced family law attorney. At Hatch, Little & Bunn, LLP, we have been helping parents resolve child support disputes for more than 50 years. Our attorneys are focused and determined to deliver results appropriate for you and your children.
How child support is calculated in North Carolina
To determine the amount of child support, medical support and childcare obligations, North Carolina uses the “income shares” model, which considers these important factors:
- The mother’s gross income
- The father’s gross income
- The number of children of the parties
- The overnight parenting time of each parent
- Other child support obligations, or custody of other children
- Healthcare costs for the minor children
- Childcare costs for the minor children
Factors that are not part of the calculation are as follows:
- The bills of the parties — The formula does not consider household expenses or debts the parents owe.
- Tax liability — The elimination of the federal income tax deduction for children in 2018 makes this even less of a consideration.
- The lack of visitation for the party paying support — Sometimes a non-custodial parent believes that if he or she doesn’t get to see their child, they shouldn’t have to pay child support. This is incorrect. Child support is still due even if the parent paying the support is not being allowed his or her parenting time.
- A parent’s new spouse — If a parent marries another person, that new spouse’s income is not used in the formula.
Some people wrongly believe that if they don’t have a job, they won’t have to pay support. In fact, the court may “impute” income to a parent who is voluntarily unemployed or under-employed. This means that the court determines the parent has the ability to earn a certain income and bases the child support order on that amount.
Filing for child support in North Carolina
Most requests for child support arise out of divorce or legal separation actions. However, mothers who have never been married to the fathers of their children may nevertheless sue for child support. Likewise, fathers who are caring for children can seek child support from mothers living outside the home. There are three basic ways a single parent can go about getting child support:
- Parents may sign a Voluntary Support Agreement. Once a judge approves the VSA, it becomes enforceable.
- A parent can request assistance from the state Child Support Enforcement Agency.
- A parent can file a civil complaint in district court.
Single mothers must establish paternity, often through the court, before they can pursue child support from an alleged father. As divorce attorneys, we represent spouses on both sides of support disputes.
Child support modifications in North Carolina
Child support orders stay in place until the child reaches 18 years old, or 19 if the child has not completed high school. However, even though the obligation to pay support remains, a parent can ask the court to change the amount.
There are many reasons why a party might seek a change in child support, such as:
- Special medical needs of the child
- Increased expenses due to the child’s change in age
- Financial hardship for a parent paying support
A petition for modification can be filed if three years have passed since the original order or if a substantial change in the parent’s finances would result in a 15 percent change in the amount ordered. This may occur, for example, if the paying parent suffers a serious illness, a business failure or long-term unemployment outside his or her control.
It is important to remember that as long as the old order is in place, falling into arrears for any reason allows the recipient parent the right to request enforcement from the court. This is true even if you have worked out an informal modification. Therefore, don’t rely on friendly agreements. Speak to a family lawyer at our firm as soon as possible.
Contact our Raleigh child support attorneys
Hatch, Little & Bunn, LLP provides assistance for child support disputes in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Research Triangle Park, Wake County and throughout North Carolina. Our attorneys are licensed to practice before all North Carolina state and federal courts. Call 919-899-9827 today or contact us online to schedule a consultation.