How to Get Child Support Payments Lowered in North Carolina
Child support is the amount of money paid by the non-custodial parent each month to support the needs of his or her child. The amount that must be paid is usually settled by the parents and their family law attorney, such as those at Mulligan Epstein Attorneys, as part of their divorce or separation proceedings. This number is based many things, including each parent’s income (which includes salary, IRAs, and stock options) as well as the child’s reasonable needs and each parent’s relative ability to pay support.
As you can see, we’re only one paragraph into this article and we’ve already used the words “relative” and “reasonable” numerous times. This is because each family is unique, with abilities and needs that vary widely. Circumstances can also change over time. For example, a father may be tasked with a certain amount of child support based on his income, but then he loses his job. Suddenly, it’s no longer possible to pay the agreed upon amount.
This can be a tough situation. Child support is very important and necessary in order to keep a child safe and secure. If it isn’t paid in full and on time (usually in weekly or monthly installments) the parent who owes can be held in contempt of the court, have his or her wages garnished or assets seized, and, in North Carolina, can even be sentenced to jail for up to thirty days. Child support must be paid until the child’s eighteenth birthday (or until the child graduates high school, as long as he or she is under the age of twenty) and for some people, that means many years of regular payments. As life ebbs and flows and situations change over the years, it’s important to ensure that your first obligation—that is, to your children—is upheld.
While this obligation is important, it’s not written in stone. There are avenues to adjust or change the amount you owe in child support, especially if you apply to modify the amount as soon as possible. The catch is that the motive for lowering your payments must be considered “reasonable grounds.” This can include the loss of a job or change in income, but only if you can prove you lost your job due to outside circumstances. You must also be able to prove that you are actively looking for a new job, and explain why you’ve been unsuccessful. Other situations considered under the umbrella of reasonable grounds include serious injury or illness, drastic increase in the cost-of-living, or a change in marital status of either parent. You also need to prove these changes aren’t a one-time situation, but an ongoing and continual change to your life.
In other cases, the custodial parent may try to increase the amount of child support that is owed. This can be due to increased expenses thanks to daycare or health insurance, financial emergencies, special needs, or an increase in income for the non-custodial parent.
If you find yourself unable to make your child support payments or facing an increase in payments for whatever reason, it is a wise idea to seek legal advice as soon as possible. Contact Mulligan Epstein Attorneys for a consultation today—our family law attorneys will make sure you have the information you need and the support you deserve during this difficult time.