Over time both court orders and out of court agreements on child support may become outdated and require reconsideration. When it comes to issues surrounding child custody and child support, the court retains authority in each North Carolina court case to determine the best interests of a child and can enter orders that modify existing orders or replace out-of-court parenting agreements, if certain threshold requirements are met.
Determining if your child support order or agreement qualifies for a modification and if the court has the ability to modify the amount depends on the particular facts and circumstances of your case. Under North Carolina law there are specific rules in place for child support modification. Under those rules, petitioners must prove they meet certain requirements to be entitled to a modification.
Modifying Out of Court Agreements
In North Carolina the courts have some ability to modify the amount of child support consented to in an out of court agreement if the court finds the out of court amount is less than the amount recommended by the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines. If the out of court agreement contained a child support obligation that exceeds the Guidelines, the Court’s ability to modify is significantly more limited. It is best to seek advice from an experienced family law attorney early in the modification process to aid you in understanding exactly what your options are.
Modifying Court Orders for Child Support
If you have a child support order, the court can only modify its terms if a significant change in circumstances has occurred since it was entered. Significant changes in circumstance can include any of the following:
- At least three years have elapsed since the entry of the order and an application of the child support guidelines in your current situation would change the child support amount at least 15%.
- The child’s needs have changed since the entry of the last order. A change in needs can be for medical or educational needs or it can be due to a change in childcare requirements.
- A change to the child’s physical custody since the entry of the last order has occurred.
- If either parent experiences an involuntary loss of employment or reduction of income, grounds for a modification may exist. Actions taken voluntarily may be construed as bad faith and will not be considered grounds for modification of child support on their own.
- When another child ages out that was included in the child support calculation, a valid reason for a modification may exist. If you are the parent paying support, it is critical that you contact an attorney to discuss a modification. Unilaterally reducing the amount of support simply because a child has reached their age of majority will be considered a violation unless the order or agreement specifically provides for a new amount to be paid once a triggering event occurs.
If you are faced with a modification, it is likely you are familiar with the challenges you may be faced with having gone through the initial child support negotiation and determination process. The support of a skilled attorney experienced in child support modification matters can be key in helping you navigate the complexities involved and come to the most efficient resolution possible.
At Hopper Cummings, our family law attorneys understand the variables involved in child support calculations and are ardent and effective investigators. We will ensure all variables in your unique situation are considered in the calculation of fair child support obligation, reflecting the true capabilities of both parents. Contact us today for a confidential consultation by completing our online intake form or calling 919-553-4115.
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